Sunday, 29 June 2014

Monsoon trek to Torna fort

After Visapur and Tung fort, it was time to do one more trek in the month of June. We wanted to step up the endurance level so we decided to go to the Torna Fort. It was our monsoon trek. There was no sign of rain on the day but cloudy weather and soft sun light played their best role to unfold nature’s beauty in front of us.

Trekkers for Torna were me (as group leader), wife Renuka (Female group leader), Himanshu (My partner to organize treks)-Ketaki, Abhijit-Manasi, Sangram, Girish Ghospurkar (Father-in-law), Parikshit, Sandeep, wishwas, Ashish and smallest trekker Tanmay (Age-13)

Torna Fort
Torna Fort

About Torna fort: 
               Torna Fort or Prachandagad (means ’massive fort’) is located in Pune , State of Maharashtra. It is the first fort captured by Shivaji Maharaj in 1643, at the age of 16, forming the nucleus of the Maratha Empire. The mountain has an elevation of 1,403 meters (4,603 ft.) above sea level, making it the highest fort in Pune.
There are many places to see on the fort. You can see Bini Darwaaja (the main entrance) Temple of goddess Mengai, Budhla machi, Zunjar Machi, (bastions), Kothi Darwaaja and Konkan Darwaaja on the fort.

There are 2 routes to reach the base village Velhe. One is Pune – National highway 4 – Cross first toll – take right at Nasarapur phata – Baneshwar – Velhe village whereas another route is Pune – Khadakwasala lake – Donje phata – Take right at Donje phata – Khanapur village – After khanapur village, take left for Pabe ghat – Cross Pabe ghat – On T-Junction, take right for Velhe village.

Personal vehicle or Government bus services from Swargate are convenient options to reach Velhe.

There is only one route to climb the Torna fort from Velhe village. Trekkers also prefer Rajgad – Torna trek route which is more popular. For this route you need to climb Rajgad – Sanjeevni machi – Descend along the left side of Sanjeevni Machi – 5/6 hours of walk to cross hills – Climb Budhla machi – there are 3 rock patches – walk towards right side to reach at Mengai devi temple.

29th June 2014: Trek to Torna (1.5 hr. of Journey + 3-3.30 hr. total climb):
            We woke up by 4.30 AM and left home at 5. We met the other trekkers at Rajaram Bridge. Some people were new to me as well as for others. After a quick round of introduction, we left for Velhe village. It was a cloudy weather and we were expecting showers as we did the previous 2 treks without rain. It was a pleasant journey to Velhe via Pabe ghat. We parked our cars at a restaurant ‘Torna Vihar’ in the village. It was 7 in the clock and we did not want to waste time for breakfast. We had Poha/Misal pav in breakfast and then our trek began at 7.45 AM.

Torna Fort and route
Torna Fort and Path to climb first hill on Right side

               Weather was perfectly set for trekking conditions. The sun was busy in hide and seeks game with rainy clouds. The first patch was a flat one through planes and fields. But soon after crossing the fields and planes, it got an elevation at approx. 40 degree. There are a series of interconnected hills of varying heights which gradually lead to the highest hill hosting the fort. Reaction of new members after watching height of Torna fort and its route was like, are we sure that we’ll climb this fort in 3.30 hours? My reply was not to think about the peak but just try to focus on the hills. After walking along the fields, we took a right-hand side path to start hike towards the first hill. The patch was rough and there was no defined path. We somehow climbed carefully. From the first stretch only we found that it was going to be our test of stamina and energy. We took a small break and then resumed our trek to climb the further part of the hill.

Blue sky

               After the warm-up hill climb, everybody started the trek in high spirits with the aim to reach on top in three hours. We were taking breaks at regular intervals to gain energy. The trek to the Torna fort was simple and straight on the path nicely laid after climbing first hill. After 1 hour of hike, we reached on top of one hill. You can see beautiful nature view of Gunjavne Dam once you’re on top of the connected hill. It was not possible for us to start climbing on massive Torna fort without capturing its beauty in our cameras. From the top of hill, you need to walk on small plateau before actual hike.

Route to Torna
Route to Torna

               The last 45 minutes of trek uphill are indeed pretty interesting. Torna fort offers you two small rock patches. For safety purpose, railings were mounted. Any person with basic knowledge can climb it easily. Somehow 3 girls from the group took lead and went ahead of us. Ketaki and Manasi are new to trekking activity but they climbed till the top without our help. The route after the small rock patches to Bini darwaja is pretty narrow though you do have railings to support you in case you miss a foot. There is a small waterfall just before Bini Darwaja and we took a small pit stop to get refreshed.

Torna Fort a.k.a. PrachandGad (Massive Fort)
Torna Fort a.k.a. PrachandGad (Massive Fort)

Walk on plateau before actual Hike
Walk on plateau before actual Hike

Waiting for Trekkers or for Monsoon!
Waiting for Trekkers or for Monsoon!

Railing on route during final hike

               Soon we reached the entry gate of the Torna fort ‘Bini Darwaja’ by 11.15 pm. All were really happy to reach here. It was as if one has got the fruit of all his efforts made. Next entrance named Kothi Darwaja to Torna fort is quite interesting. The path to the entrance is in curved shape along with guardrooms. As we were on height, sunny weather was replaced by cloudy weather and cool strong breeze was playing around us. We took a break and then decided to go to Goddess Mengai Temple for lunch break. On the way to the temple, you can see a water tank and a constructed room without roof. Trekkers can either set up their tents here or can stay inside the Goddess Mengai temple.

Bini Darwaja (Bini entrance)
Bini Darwaja (Bini entrance)

Bastion at Kothi Darwaja
Bastion at Kothi Darwaja

Kothi Darwaja (Kothi entrance)
Kothi Darwaja (Kothi entrance)

              After 3.15 hours of trek, everyone was hungry. We settled down inside the temple for lunch. Homemade packed lunch and some rest made us feel fresh to explore the fort. This fort is believed to have been constructed by the Shaiva Panth in the 13th century. Torna was the first fort won by Shivaji at the tender age of 16. Seeing this huge fort must have prompted Shivaji to name it Prachandgad. After his daring escape from Agra, he came here & renovated the fort. When Shivaji started the restoration work of the fort, he came across a hidden treasure which financed the cost of rebuilding the fort of Rajgad which stands on the mountain opposite Murumbdev. In the 18th century, the Mughal Empire gained control of this fort after assassination of Shivaji Maharaj's son Sambhaji. Aurangzeb, then Mughal emperor, renamed this fort as 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.

Mengai Temple
Mengai Temple

Colors of Nature

Rajgad Fort from Torna
Rajgad Fort from Torna

                 We decided to go towards the Budhla machi. In Marathi "Budhla" means a vessel, & "Budhla" Machi looks like a vessel kept upside down. This is a breathtaking spot on the fort. On the way to budhla machi, we saw mahar water trench and kokan darwaja. Fortification of the Kokan darwaja (kokan side entrance gate) is in a better condition. On the way to Budhla machi, you can see a beautiful bastion construction with a secrete route to enter into the bastion. You need to crawl to reach here. We went there and it was truly amazing. It is definitely a must visit place. From budhla machi, you can go to the Rajgad fort.

Fortification and Fort wall
Fortification and Fort wall

Kokan Darwaja (Kokan Entrance)
Kokan Darwaja (Kokan Entrance)

Budhla Machi
Budhla Machi

Way to secrete Bastion
Way to secrete Bastion 

            Another famous location on the fort is the Zunjar machi. After spending some time near budhla machi, we took a walk towards Zunjar machi. It is situated on the western side & is a wonderful spot to see. This machi was the most important part of the fort during the wars as it is the most difficult part of the fort to win and hence it is called as “Zunzar machi”. "Zunzar" means a "Fighter". To reach “Zunzar machi” you have to descend an iron ladder. This iron ladder has been put on the wall of the fort making the access to the Zunjar Machi easier. After this ladder there are two rock patches, out of the two the last rock patch is a difficult one. Everyone was trying to capture the beauty of the machi in cameras. We spent some time here and then walked along the fort wall.

Sadar

Zunjar machi
Zunjar machi

Fort's Wall
Fort's Wall

             We saw almost the entire fort in 2 – 3 hours and now everyone wanted to have a power nap before we started the descend. The nature changed its mood regularly, sometimes raining, and sometimes winds playing with us and sometimes sudden focus of the sun-rays glowing up the lush green wet vegetation. Everyone was taking rest when I was eager to enjoy nature’s beauty. I informed my group member and went to explore the fort again with my camera. As most of the other trekking groups had started to descend, I was exploring the fort alone. Peace of the fort, nature’s beauty with cool breeze was best way to do meditation for me. I enjoyed photography for around 1 hour and joined my group for snacks.

Waiting for Monsoon...
Waiting for Monsoon...

                 After sightseeing, we started descending at 4.15 pm. Myself and Abhijit helped the girls to descend the rock patch. Descending was not a difficult job but after some time, pressure on the knee becomes troublesome. After descending half the way (Rock patches), we took a break for 10 min. No reason as such for the break. Yet after the small break, we covered the remaining distance with lighting speed. We reached Velhe village at 6 PM. After we reached at our parked cars at base village, we had tea break and then we left this historical place.

Our Torna Gang (L to R: Me, Renuka, Ketaki, Himanshu, Sandeep, Sangram, Girish Ghospurkar, Parikshit, Abhijit, Manasi, Wishwas,Ashish and Tanmay at center)

                 Torna is truly a place to visit and to remember the greatest Maratha King. One must visit the fort and enjoy the nature and the beauty of the great fort. It was a perfect end to an adventurous weekend. We reached home by 8.30 PM safely ending a pleasurable trek in monsoon.

Zunjar machi from another angle
Zunjar machi from another angle

Old beauty at base village Velhe
Old beauty at base village Velhe

Things to carry for Torna trek:
  • A water bottle to carry at least 2 liters of water
  • Some dry food and packed lunch, No suitable food stall is available on Torna fort.
  • Windcheater / jacket / Barsati during monsoon trek.
  • First aid kit
  • 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:
  • Car petrol: INR 750-800/- (approx. 9 lit at INR 81.8/lit)
  • Breakfast at Village Velhe: As per ordered Dish (Poha: INR 20/-, Misal: INR 30/-, Bread-omelet: INR 35/-)
  • Tea: INR 10/- per cup
  • No Expenses on Lunch as we were carrying food from home.

Contact Number for reference:
  • Restaurant Torna Vihar at base village: Hemant kadam – 9403581022 / 9021813512.


Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy traveling.

Pritesh Kulkarni 
Pune

14 comments:

  1. Hi Pritesh..I am a regular reader of your travel blogs and I like hiking too. I have been to few of the places mentioned in your blogs such as Sinhagad Fort, Tikona Fort, Lohagad (Karnala from my list). And all of the treks were awesome. Your blogs help a lot in respect to which route to choose and the difficulty level of the treks.Thanks for the description. Do continue sharing your experiences of the coming treks! .. Poonam

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot Poonam for your comment...I will try my level best to cover nearby forts and will write blog on it. Monsoon and post monsoon are the best season for trekking.
      Happy Traveling...

      Delete
  2. My name is Karan Singh i really liked your trek pics very much and will be happy to be a part of group. If you can help me with any such group for treking.My no. is 9923980990

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for comment. I will make a note of it and will give you a call.. It will better for me to know your number and Gmail ID to contact you rather than personal number

      Regards,
      Pritesh

      Delete
  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this trek and wish to visit once again when it is heavily raining.-GP Ghospurkar

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Pritesh,

    Surekh blog ahe. Tornyachi hi post tar solid ch. Photo kadak. Tuzya DP warun kaltach ki tu photography enthusiast ahes. We share the same interests. Trekking, Photography, Traveling. So it was glad to find this blog and read about your ventures.

    Do stop by my blog some day if interested. www.apurvaoka.com

    Cheers. Keep trekking and clicking.
    Apurva Oka

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much Apurva Oka...Will read your Blog soon...Thanks for sharing!

      Regards,
      Pritesh Kulkarni

      Delete
  5. Himanshu patnekar5 August 2015 at 16:04

    Hi Pritish,

    Been reading your blog for a long time. Finally going to Torna this Saturday. Any advice?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for comment...No Advice as such..just follow safety and respect nature

      Regards,
      Pritesh Kulkarni

      Delete
  6. nice description, will reduce the fear of the trek to Torna in monsoon....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for comment...No Advice as such..Just follow safety and respect nature

      Regards,
      Pritesh Kulkarni

      Delete
  7. Hello Sir,
    Thanks for such a wonderful blog.
    We are also planning for a trek to Torna in the month of January.
    The members in our group are not a regular trekkers neither regular exerciser.
    So is it possible for us to complete this trek. Please give your opinion.
    If yes, what precautions we need to take & the path to be followed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Torna is beautiful fort to explore. Route is not difficult but you may feel tired. As it not monsoon time, Better to start as early as possible to avoid heat.
      Carry water and some energy drink like Glucon-D
      Non regular trek members can do it without any issue. be in Group while climbing to help each other if required.

      Pritesh Kulkarni

      Delete