Sunday, 21 July 2013

Purandar fort in Monsoon

After Lohagad and Tikona fort, it was time to do one more trek. Very heavy rainfall started around Pune so we thought better to go for an easy and safe trek.We preferred bike journey rather than a car to enjoy the monsoon.

Trekkers for Purandar were me and my wife Renuka

Bini Darwaja

About Purandar fort:
             Purandar fort stands 4,472 ft. above the sea (1,387 m) in the Western Ghats, 52 kilometres southeast of Pune.The fort was a good place for defence. It had the capacity to house many soldier-troops, foods grains and ammunition which proved sufficient for long durations during wartime. Nonetheless, the fort hosts strongly fortified places from which a watchful eye can be kept over surrounding areas.History says that Purandar was from Yadava’s era. The 1000 yr. old Narayaneshwar temple of Hemadpanthi architecture built by the Yadava’s still exists in Narayanpur, the base village of Purandar.
This fort witness many more historical events like famous Treaty of Purandar in the year 1665, Shivaji Maharaja’s eldest son and successor was born at Purandar fort.I will share some history of Purandar fort on the blog.

            To reach on Purandar, there are two routes. One is from Hadapsar – Saswad route and another one is from National highway 4. I went via the second route which is Pune – Waraje – National Highway 4 (Towards Kolhapur side) – Cross first toll plaza – Cross Nasarapur (do not take any turn at Nasarapur) – After driving for few km, Take left at Kapurhol (on NH4) – Narayanpur village – Cross Narayanpur village and after 1 km take right turn for fort which is opposite to Petrol pump.
            By personal vehicle, you can go to fort directly (to avoid 1 hr. trek) and then you can explore the fortification. As we were on our trek, we decided to do a trek from the base.

21st July 2013: Trek to Purandar fort (Total Distance travelled: 105 km):
            We woke up early morning by 7.30 am and left Pune by 8 am. When we reached on National highway, rain god welcomed us with a heavy shower. Due to bike journey, we reached at the base village after 1.5 hours of wonderful rainy drive. We reached the base village, and the entire fort was covered with cloud. Many villagers told us to go up on the bike and why to waste your time to climb the fort. Few of them warned us that route will be muddy and slippery so take proper care while climbing.

Starting point of Trek route

            After our short discussion, we came up with the option to trek rather than drive. Also, safety is the most important part of trek so we decided that if anyone from us feels the trek route is not safe, we will turn back. It was raining so I was not able to capture any photos. In fact most of the time on the trek, my camera was in the bag due to heavy rain. Initial part was ok but after few min, we started facing problem to climb. Not because of difficulty level but due to mud and slippery path. The rain was causing a continuous cascade of water on the trail; it was pretty slippery at times, but it was fun. Every time we were searching for an alternate route to avoid slippery route. Renuka did a great job even though she is not experiencing trekker. Once halfway through, the muddy route turned into deep forest climbing route. It was a thick maze of bushes, which was pretty cool. I think we were the only 2 trekkers for the entire path. At the end of the trek, our track pants were a slushy mess.

Forest Path

            After few min, we reached the wall. We took a left turn here for the fort. Fort direction is marked on the wall with paint. From this point, it’s a steady climb till the top. There is also a small waterfall on this route where you can get wet if you feel that rainwater is not enough to wet you in the monsoon. After climbing on last rocky steps stretch, we reached Bini Darwaja. We reached this point in just 50 min. The door is in good condition even today. As one enters through the door, there are provisions for the guards to hide and attack the enemy. These are called as the Gatehouses. Once you enter through the door, the road branches, and one straight ahead whereas the other towards the rear ends of the fort.

Way to Bini Darwaja

Walk towards Bini Darwaja

            We moved ahead to the fort after taking a small halt. We saw an abandoned church walking on the road. This church was built by British after the fort was captured by them in 1818. You can see some other structures and houses which are belong to the Indian military. This fort is a training center of Indian Military. After a km walk on road, you will find signboards for the fort area. There is small check post set up by military. It is mandatory to enrol your name and other details. Sometimes they ask for Identity card just to cross check your details.


           From this point, our second half of trek begins. It was a simple route to climb. We were constantly in the cloud and in heavy rain. It was too difficult to take any photograph. Due to the clouds, we were not able to see surrounding view but weather was very pleasant. On this route, we saw few bastions, old-time water tanks and some fortification. This route goes to Kedareshwar temple which was our final destination. It took us around 1 hour to reach at the temple.

Steps for Kedareswar temple


            Before I write further, I would like to share some history about Purandar fort. In 1596, when Bahudar Shah of Ahmednagar sultanate granted Maloji Bhosale (grandfather of Shivaji) Poona (Now Pune) and Supa, the fort of Purandar was included as well. In 1646, a 19-year-old Shivaji in one of the first victories of his legendary career established control in the fort.
           In 1665, it was besieged by the forces of Aurangzeb, under the command of Mirja Raja Jai Singh, a Rajput general, assisted by Diler Khan, an Afghan. The defence of Purandar by Murarbaji Deshpande of Mhar, the killedar (keeper of the fort) was obstinate and he lost his life in the struggle to retain the fort. Diler Khan, impressed with the bravery of Murarbaji, offered him a truce and employment in the Mughal forces with a handsome salary. Murarbaji turned down the offer due to his loyalty to the ideals of Hindavi Swarajya. He was extremely enraged at this very suggestion and in an act of extreme daredevilry charged with his commando’s right into the heart of the Mughal troops, killing hundreds. Diler Khan was so much impressed with Murarbaji that after his death he said, such this warrior was blessed by God Alha ("असा शिपाई खुदाने पैदा केला.").

Murarbaji Deshpande (Photo taken from Wikipedia)

            Dilerkhan was marching upwards from all directions on to the Purandar fort. However, first Vajragad was lost and later inspite of a valiant performance by Murarbaji’s troops, the fort of Purandar fell into the hands of Moguls. Raja Shivaji daunted at the prospect of the fall of his grandfather's fort, signed a treaty (the first Treaty of Purandar) with Aurangzeb. Purandar fort along with Vajragad, Sinhgad and 22 other forts came under the Aurangzeb's control and ShivajiRaje became his jahagirdar (glorified tenant). This truce did not last long as Shivaji revolted against Aurangzeb and recaptured Purandar only five years later in 1670. Thereafter, Shivaji spent prolonged periods of time here. Sambhajiraje, Shivaji Maharaj's eldest son and successor was born at Purandar fort.
           Later, after the death of Sambaji Maharaj, Aurangazeb conquered the fort and renamed it as ‘Ajamgad’. Again, on behalf of Marathas, Shankarji Narayan argued with Mughals and took control of the fort. Subsequent to that, in 1695, Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj handed over the reign of the fort to Peshwas. It was the capital of Peshwas for many years then. Shake’ 1697, i.e. 1775, marked the birth of Sawai Madhavrao. In the year 1818, British took the charge of the fort.
            Back to our fort journey, we had our packed our lunch in the temple. It was raining too heavily and it was difficult to stand still in the windy weather. A group of 8 people along with their 7-8 small children offered us Pithale bhakari and Mirchi Thecha (smashed chillies dish) which they brought. It was very delicious food. After a short break, we left the temple area. Within a 30 min, we came to the military check post. While walking towards the parking area, we saw the statue of Murarbaji Deshpande which was established in 1970.We wanted to avoid the same route for descending the fort due to the slippery condition. We asked Army people for help and they arranged 1 vehicle to drop us at the base where we parked our vehicle. By the way, you can get Auto from the parking area but it depends on availability which is rare. Or you can take an Auto number before you start your trek. From the base, we came home safely on our bike by 6 pm.

Things to carry for Purandar trek:

  • A water bottle to carry at least 2 litres of water
  • Some dry food, in case you didn’t find any suitable food stall 
  • Windcheater/jacket / Barsati during monsoon trek.
  • Do carry instant energizers like Glucon-D or Tang.
  • 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.

Our Expenses:
  • Bike petrol: INR 150/- (approx. 2 lit at INR 74.5/lit)
  • No Expenses on food as we were caring food from home.
Due to rain, I was not able to post any good photos. I will surely visit this fort for Photography somewhere in this winter.
Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy travelling.

Pritesh Kulkarni

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Monsoon trek to Tikona fort

After Lohagad trek, now we were planning for another easy level trek for the monsoon. Then we decided to go for Tikona Fort. It is also known as Vitandgad. It is located in Pawna Mawal area. We preferred bike journey rather than a car to enjoy the monsoon.

Trekkers for Tikona were me, my wife Renuka, Girish Ghospurkar (Father-in-law) and our friends Ashu & Kayadhu.

Tikona fort
Tikona Fort view from base village

About Tikona fort and trek:
             It is located near Kamshet around 48 km from Pune. The base village of the fort is Tikona-Peth. The fort is pyramidal in shape and the name Tikona means "triangle". Tikona fort is the easier forts to climb and would be a good introductory, yet interesting trek.
             There are many places to see on the fort. Entrance gate (Vetal darwaja), the temple of 'Trimbakeshwar Mahadev', Water tanks, Caves constructed during Satvahan, stone grinder, Steep stairs which takes you at the Bale-Killa, bastion and Bale-Killa. The whole fort can be seen in an hour's time. From the top of the fort, you can have a view of adjacent fort Tung (On another side of Pawna Dam, Lohagad, Visapur, Jambhuli hill and entire Pawna region.
             Not much is known about the history of this fort. Caves from the fort are from seventh-eight centuries A.D. Malik Ahmed Nizamshah of the Nizam dynasty conquered it in 1585 and thus it was made part of the Nizam territory. Shivaji Maharaj conquered Tikona fort along with other Pawna region forts in 1657. This fort was mainly used to keep watch on Pawna region. Netaji Palkar was the assigned the task of ensuring the security of fort Tikona. Mughal captured this fort but soon it was recaptured by Marathas.
               In 1682, king Sambhaji met with Aurangzeb's son Akbar. After this meeting, Akbar was offered to stay at fort Tikona, however, was sent later to Jaitapur since the climate here didn't suit him. In the end, the fort was captured by British in 1818 after a small battle.
              To reach the base village of the fort from Pune is Pune – Chandani Chowk – Pirangut – Paud – Take a right at Paud after Bus stand – Hadashi (No need to take Hadashi temple route) – Javan – Tikona Peth.

Tikona Fort

7th July 2013: Trek to Tikona (Total Distance travelled: 97 km):
            We woke up early morning by 5 am and left Pune by 6.30 after meeting other trekkers in kothrud area. We all were aware of roads and we were on two-wheelers. The weather was cloudy but there was no sign of any rain. After crossing Pirangut, we took our first pit stop for breakfast. My favourite Vada-Pav center was not open so we ate at Maganmurti vada-pav centre outside Global hospital. Vada-pav was tasty but not as good as Dilkhushvada-pav centre. Once you cross Ghotawade phata chowk, there is a Vada-Pav center at the right side by name “dilkhush Vada-Pav”. This is one of my favourite places.After a tasty breakfast, we moved ahead towards Tikona fort.
             We took a right turn at Paud village,  and we were making sure that we stay together so that no one loses their way.After crossing small Ghat section, we saw Pawna dam on our left side and Fort on the right side. We reached Base village “Tikona Peth” soon. There is ample parking space close to the temple. From Temple, you need to walk 1.5km to reach the starting point of the fort for trekking. People generally drive their vehicle to that point but it’s better to avoid it as the road is very muddy and the vehicle can stick in the mud. While walking on that road if you feel that you are leaving fort behind (on the right side) then don’t worry, you are on right track.

Our trekking partner until top

              After warm-up walk for 1.5 km, we reached fort’s base point. Our trek begins.Trek route begins with bit steep but steady height gain so we decided to take it a bit slowly. Small steps at a time, we were slowly but surely getting there. The wonderful scenery was adding towards us forgetting our tiredness and enjoying the beauty of nature.After a height gain, we reached the top hill. This hill patch is nothing but part of fort separated from the main part. In Marathi, it is known as “soond” (सोंड).The route was simple from this point to the fort’s first entrance gate. 

Trek Path

Trek route 

             On the way, we passed one lord Hanuman’s temple known as Chapetdan Maruti.  It named because of Lord Hanuman's pose to slap the devil that is at his feet.We saw some ruined fortification and Vetal darwaja. After few minutes walk, we reached temple named Lord Tuljadevi Mandir. There is a small lake in front of the temple. You can read fort history and map on board which is situated near the temple. After few steps there is a remnant of a stone grinder, the kind pulled around by animals. From this point, the final steep step ascent to the top begins.These steps take you to a bale-Killa.

Chapatdan Maruti

Tuljadevi Temple

Old Grinder

Information Board

             The steps are split into 2 sections. A rope with bolts is fixed which gives you support while climbing. Climbing on steep steps can make you a tired. Each step is much bigger than a regular step. Take proper care during rainy season as rainwater usually flows from these steps. As fort was totally covered by cloud, I was not able to capture proper photos. At the end of steeps, we saw very beautiful bastion fortification and caves o the right side. We took small break and then went on the top of fort.


Bale-Killa Entrance


Temple at the top

             There is a very beautiful temple Tryambakeshwarat the top of fort. Still we were not able to see any view of nearby area b’cos of cloud. After visiting water tank (PanyacheTaak in Marathi) and other area, we settle down for heavy breakfast.Being girls in group gives you advantage on food department. Renuka and her friends had bought enough food for breakfast. Till we had heavy breakfast, Weather was cleared. View from top of the fort is amazing. From here, you get an excellent view of Tung Fort with Pawna dam in the foreground. One can also see Lohagad and Visapur forts from the top. Entire Pawna Mawal region can be seen from top.I did some photography and we started descending at 12.30 pm.
            As weather was cleared, I spent a lot time in photography. We reached at the base village within an hour. After we reached at our parked bike at base village, we left this historical place.It was raining heavily during our return journey. We reached home by 4 PM safely ending pleasurable trek in monsoon.

Tung fort with pawna dam from Tikona fort (Pic: In Summer)

Tung fort with pawna dam from Tikona fort (Pic: In Monsoon)

Trekkers from L to R (my wife Renuka, Kayadhu, Girish Ghospurkar - My father-in-law, Me and Ashu)
Things to carry for Tikona trek:
  • A water bottle to carry at least 2 liters of water
  • Some dry food, in case you didn’t find any suitable food stall 
  • Windcheater / jacket / Barsati during monsoon trek.
  • Do carry instant energizers like Glucon-D or Tang.
  • 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.
Our Expenses:
  • Bike petrol: INR 150/- (approx. 2 lit at INR 74.5/lit)
  • Vada-Pav: INR 10/- per Pic
  • Kanda Bhaji: INR 40/- per plate
Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy traveling. 

Pritesh Kulkarni