Saturday, 29 July 2017

Offbeat Vairaatgad trek

I was looking for an offbeat trek with medium endurance and I came across Fort Vairaatgad. I decided to visit the fort on Saturday.
Friend Vishal and Ashutosh with his son Aarush joined me for the trek.

Vairaatgad Fort
Vairaatgad Fort

About Vairaatgad 
Vairaatgad is located 8km away from Wai town. Base village for the fort is Vyajwadi. Fort was used by King Shivaji as a military station. Fort area is small

To reach the base village is Pune - join Mumbai-Bangalore National Highway - cross Khambatki Ghat section - drive till Panchwad village located on the national highway- take right under the bridge - take left at GPS (17.901404, 73.929159) - Vyajwadi village.
Another route is Pune - Join Mumbai-Bangalore National Highway - cross Khambatki Ghat section - take Right for Wai - take left in Wai for Wai-Satara road - take right at GPS (17.901404, 73.929159) - Vyajwadi.

Vairaatgad Fort
Vairaatgad Fort

29 July 2017: Vairaatgad Fort
              Trek was planned on Friday night so it was not possible for us to leave in the early morning. We left at 7:30 AM by car. There was less traffic on highway considering monsoon weekend. We took breakfast break at Shriram Wadapav Center. It is the famous hotel for Wada Pav, Missal, and other snacks.
             After breakfast, we reached Vyajwadi village. There are 3 routes to climb for. Two are from Base Village Vyajwadi and one from opposite side of Vyajwadi. The third route is a longer route with multiple hills to climb before the main fort. We decided to climb fort via Vyajwadi.

Vairaatgad Fort View From Base

               If you are facing towards fort from base village then two routes are from the Left side of the mountain and from right side mountain. Both routes joined before final climb for the fort. There are multiple narrow routes available to climb the fort. We started Climb and after a 60-75 min, we reached the entrance gate. Entrance gate area is in ruined state but you can see bastion and water tanks. After few steps, we reached the top of the Vairaatgad fort.

Way towards Fort entrance...Vairaatgad Fort
A way towards Fort entrance...Vairaatgad Fort

Vairaatgad Fort entrance
Vairaatgad Fort entrance

               Fort top area is very small and can be explored less than an hour. There is small chapatdan Hanuman Temple. It named because of Lord Hanuman's pose to slap the devil that is at his feet. There are around 3-4 small lakes and 1-2 Water trench. There is some ruined fortification available on the fort. View from Fort is breathtaking.

Shiv Temple on the Fort

Lake on the Fort

Lord Maruti Idol

               You can see newly built Shiv temple. There is big shelter to take some rest. We spend around an hour and left the less visited the beautiful vairaatgad fort. It took around an hour to climb down. Few patches are a bit slippery in monsoon but manageable with proper care. We reached home by 5 PM safely ending pleasurable trek in monsoon.

View from Vairaatgad Fort
View from Fort

Lake and Shiv Temple view

View from Vairaatgad Fort
View from Vairaatgad Fort

Things to carry for Vairaatgad Trek:
  • A water bottle to carry at least 2 liters of water. (Water in lake is available during monsoon)
  • 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:
  • Car Petrol: INR 800-1000/-
  • Toll: INR 120/- (Returned)
  • Snacks at Shriram: As per Dish (Missal: INR 50, Vada Pav: INR 30 per plate)
  • No Parking charges in Village
  • We had packed food on fort and milk share during the return journey
Village view from Vairaatgad Fort

Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy traveling. 

Pritesh Kulkarni

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Quick trek to Narayangad and Amba-Ambika Caves

We were planning for easy level off beat trek for Monsoon. We decided to visit Narayangad along with Amba Ambika caves.
Travellers for this trek were I, Himanshu, Nirupa, Vishal-Arya along with their 2.5-year-old son, Ashutosh along with his 4-year-old son and Aditya.

Narayangad Fort View
Narayangad Fort View

About Narayangad Fort and Caves:
Narayangad fort is around 90-95 KM from Pune and the nearest town is Narayangaon. Fort is located on a detached hill and used as Watch tower.
Junnar is famous for rock cut caves which were built between 3rd century B.C. to 3rd century A.D. Caves consists of Chitya, Viharas, rock cut rooms, Water trench and stupa. It is few KM away from Junnar town.

The Best way to reach is Pune - old Pune-Mumbai Highway - take right at Kasarwadi - take Nashik Highway till Narayangaon.
For fort, take right after crossing Bus Depo at Narayangaon. Follow the tar road which will take you at the base of Fort

For Caves, take left from Narayangaon towards Junnar. drive for 12-14KM and take left U turn to join Junnar-Vadaj Road. No signboards present to identify the hike route for caves but you can view caves from the road.

Narayangad Fort

GPS locations
Narayangad fort: 19.113563, 74.033361
Take right here for Amba-Ambika Cave: 19.187963, 73.888552
Parking point for Amba-Ambika Caves: 19.187314, 73.888144
Amba-Ambika Cave: 19.185852, 73.884426
Bhutalinga cave: 19.188291, 73.878576
Bhimashankar Cave: 19.179921, 73.886486

8 July 2017: Pune to Narayangad Fort:
              I woke up by 5:30 AM and left at 6:15 AM. My wife unable to joined trek due to office work. We all gather at my place whereas Vishal-Arya joined us at Kasarwadi junction. Drive on Nashik Highway was pretty good. Highway expansion is in progress hence you may face a little bit of traffic. We had Breakfast in Aakash hotel near Manchar.
              After a quick drive, we reached Narayangaon by 8:30 AM. The narrow road till fort base took around 40-45 min to reach the base. There is enough parking space available near the temple. Fort is small and it hardly takes 30 minutes to climb it. Steps were built by local authority till mid point and then steps in rocks takes you on the fort.

Narayangad Fort

Narayangad Fort

            Mainly fort is divided into 2 sections. One on right side and second on your left side once you reach the top. We decided to explore right side first and then move towards left where the temple is built. Fort was built in Satvahan era and used as a watch tower for the trade route. It was rebuilt Balaji Vishvanath (First Peshwa) and handed to Sayaji Povar to maintained.

Water Trench at Narayangad Fort
Water Trench at Narayangad Fort

View from NArayangad Fort

           Very fewer fortifications are available. The route is narrow till the end but quite safe to walk. You can see water trenches on the route. We took a small break after reaching end point and returned. We reached the midpoint and then hiked towards Temple which is the topmost point on Fort. Temple is dedicated to Goddess Hastmata. The route is easy to climb and proper marking is available. You can see ruined fortification which consists of a base of Sadar, Lord Ganesh carving and ruined rock statue having Lion face on it.

Hastmata Temple

Fortification of Sadar
Fortification of Sadar

Ganesh carved on Stone at Narayangad Fort
Ganesh carved on Stone at Narayangad Fort

Steps on Fort

           The entire fort can be seen in 1 hour. We climb down quickly after exploring the small fort. By 12 PM, we reached the base of the fort. We had quick lunch in Narayangaon before heading towards Amba Ambika caves. Cave was built between 3rd century B.C. to 3rd century A.D. Signboards are not available on the route which makes it difficult to track. If you start asking Locals, then most of them think that you are interested in Lenyadri Caves and Ganesh temple.

Amba-Ambika Cave Complex
Amba-Ambika Cave Complex 

            Three Caves are spread on one hill. You can see 3 caves on the Junnar-Vadaj Road (On the Right side of Road) named as Bhutalinga Cave (Bit away from Road), Amba-Ambika Caves and Bhimashankar Cave. All Three Caves are connected by forest trails. Middle cave have Amba-Ambika idol which was the reason to name these caves as Amba-Ambika caves.

Forest Trail for Cave

Route for Cave

              We decided to visit only Amba-Ambika Caves. Other 2 caves are accessible but not recommended. There are too many Honey-bee combs present on the route to Bhutalinga cave and Bhimashankar Cave. Even Locals prefer not to visit and warn the tourist to avoid the same. There is small forest hike to reach the Amba-Ambika caves. After 15-20 minute of steep gain, we reached the cave. Make sure to cover your full body during winter to protect from Mosquito bites.

              Amba-Ambika Caves consists of Chitya, Viharas, rock cut rooms, Water trench and stupa. Most of the caves are in incomplete form. Amba-Ambika idols are present on the second level. You take narrow step route to reach the second level. Not enough rock left to keep your feet so with proper care, you can enter the cave. Cave have sculptures of Amba, Ambika and Tirthankara. Ambika and Tirthankara are worshipped by Jain the community. Ambika is also worshipped by Hindu community.

              This is the hidden gem and hardly people visit these caves. After exploring caves, we climbed down quickly. We began our return journey and reached home by 7 PM safely.

I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.

Pritesh Kulkarni