Trek to Sudhagad

Posted: by Pulsurge in Labels: , ,

I learn something every time I go into the mountains...... Michael Kennedy

Trying to make the best of the climate with rains still around and on a lookout for a good trek to a fort, came across Sudhagad aka Bhorapgad/ Bhoraicha Killa. Reviews of relatively being a well maintained fort and not being too far away from Mumbai, Sudhagad it was for the weekend with my colleague Nilesh joining me on the trip.

We both met up at Ghodbunder Naka and sped up eager to leave the city far behind and our first casual stop on the JNPT stretch- this place is too tempting to avoid a click. Wish whole of Mumbai had roads like these.

Nothing in our tummies, this was our second halt for breakfast at our regular 'Rishabh Hotel' near Khopoli.

Broke away from the old Mumbai-Pune highway from Khalapur towards Pali rolling over narrow but lovely roads.

Barring a few bumpy patches with overflowing civilisation- most if the roads were lovely to ride till Pachapur.

Finally we made it to Thakurwadi the base village.

Kept our helmets at one of the homes of the friendly villagers.

Thankfully it wasn't sunny and it was a non-sapping comfortable hike.

The best facilitated ladder you can find on any fort- well at least to the ones I've been.

Caught glimpses of the giant wooden spider on the way- captured one on the cam.

Nilesh was quite quick on this feet, galloping over the rocks.

The mystic stairs leading to the entrance.

Was all foggy around, and raining as well- but fortunately we were above the rain clouds.

In a matter of minutes and to our good luck- everything cleared off. Thats the gorgeous sight of Takmak Tok.

We were carrying a map of the fort and it was easier finding the attractions on the way. A few resting moments at the lake. 

Remnants of the Wada....wish I could go back in time to see all the bustle that went on in those days.

The Pant Sachiv Wada....great place for an overnight stay even in rains. Nice dry shelter.

That Daarukothaar (would have been blooming with arsenal in its like a haunted grave)

The Bhorai-devi temple and the lotsa samadhis everywhere.

This was an amazing sight...the Mahadarwaja supposed to be the exact replica of the one at Raigad.

Next destination was Takmak Tok...Nilesh had a larger vertigo issue than me and stayed back. I just carried on to the edge as I could on trembling legs. But I can never forget the view from here in my life.

We were done with all the site-seeing and the watch ticking closer to 6, we had to hurry our way back- but still had time to explore the Chor Darwaza.

Stopped over at Pali for Lord Ganesh's Darshan, had some snacks and scampered back home.

Sudhagad is indeed beautiful and generally its the more challenging forts that offer a better view from top. But Sudhagad is an exception- its an easy trek and you can witness paradise on a very small effort. Just a small word of caution. If its raining too heavy- avoid going up or if you're up the fort, wait for the rains to clear. Had been here again after this trek and I realised how it feels to see death closing on you.
Here's the route:
Mumbai-Panvel-Khalapur-Mahad Ganpati-Pali Ganpati-Pachapur-Thakurwadi: Distance approx 160 kms.

Trek to Mahuli Fort

Posted: by Pulsurge in Labels: , , ,

Going to the mountains is going home...... George Leigh Mallory

Trackback to those days of childhood when on every Shirdi trip the ST Asiad used to stop at a hotel with a weird shaped but lovely chain of hills in the distance making me wonder if the pinnacles and the shapes of the peaks were natural or man-made- I always thought it was the latter without going into any logic whatsoever. With time and trips I fell in love with these hills- just for the way they were looked. My susu breaks in the backyard of the restaurant always used to end up extended with me staring at the hills into overtime. It’s been 20 years since and it’s recently that I came to know this thing of natural beauty was called Mahuli fort. 
A few months back, Glen and I had decided to trek Mahuli - we didn’t even know the name then, it’s only on finalisation that we investigated as to what it’s called. I always kept this trek on buffer as I wanted to ensure that Glen comes along. Unfortunately with his nose flowing like Amazon since the rains arrived and I not ready to miss it this year- I decided to go alone. Asked Revel in case interested and he was on his toes right away. Dhananjay too joined in the list coming to know from Alkesh (my colleague) about the trek- but later dropped out for office commitments. Finalised it for Saturday as we could get a rest & recover day the next. A big thanks to Abhijit Avalaskar and Rohan Rao (had to regret big time of forgetting your advice to carry odomos) for their valuable tips.
Saturday is here and I ditch my super-slippery Woodlands for the newly and freely acquired Liberty Warrior Safety shoes- at least they gave better grip on wet surfaces. Met up with Revel at IRB Toll Naka with a surprise turnout Raj (looks a kid which he isn't). Without much delay we were pleasantly cruising on NH3 towards Aasangaon Railway Station. We crossed over the railway crossing reaching the station only to know that it was Atgaon and not Aasangaon. Someone punch me! I had been through the place so many times- but never bothered to read the name. We head back into right direction this time and pad ourselves up on the way as it started drizzling buckets.
A small breakfast and we land up at the Mahuli temple- parked the bikes, left the helmets at a shop and started the walk towards the pinnacled beauty.
Heard a gush in the bushes and found it was a lovely waterfall. A few clicks and we were on our way again.
Half an hour of walk and the path's a full stop- we try exploring all directions, but cannot find a way round. Thankfully we find a local who points that we took the wrong way, the diversion to the fort was way back. One hour was completely wasted walking for nothing- or at least for the waterfall. Blunder....we didnt follow the arrow marks on the way (my heartiest thanks to the trekkers who take the effort for the markings all the way up).

 The sun came out and it got irritatingly humid- I was still comfortable though sweating like there's no tomorrow. The two Rs (Revel & Raj) finding it too tiring and were taking frequent breaks. There was no breeze either, but the sight of the pinnacles was charging me up- why wouldn't it be, the 20 year old love affair had just been revived.

In between sections were too vertical and squeezing all the calf muscles- my body felt like a furnace and I prayed just for a small drizzle that would cool everything around. Never had my prayers been answered so soon - a short quick shower from the skies charged up the batteries. The R brothers were too slow to keep up- so I used to hurry and wait for them ahead. The ritual carried on till we reached half way and from thereon we three were together. The pinnacles- my love, were forcing us at regular intervals to stop and stare at them.

 A small stop again for a quench and some biscuits and a short break again to the duo for a respite to their backs. 

Thanks to the people who took the efforts to get the ladder there.
A few steps more and we come across a water cistern (not potable though), get rid of our shoes in a hurry and in no time are our feet having a massage- suprisingly it gave the same feeling that a warm massage does. We all jumped up when someone around said he saw a snake inside- though there was nothing as such.
Bidding good-bye to the massage parlour we carried on our way towards the Mahadarwaja- shattered near-almost, but still standing proud.

Surprising you have to come through the fort for the entrance. Walked slowly towards to see the way coming from the side..all I could see was a drop ahead, though couldn’t see clearly- didnt venture far, way slippery to my liking. I guess this would be an abandoned path or too risky rather to come up through.

The caves near the Mahadarwaja could serve well for an overnight halt- but the way picnickers had littered the area, you'd be better staying away from this place- only if the sense of cleanliness and respect for the place came to them.

The two carved objects near the entrance, couldn't make out though what they resembled- maybe a sign to keep bad luck at bay.
 Pulled out the travel reference booklet from the bag to check the attractions on the fort, but the book sounded too confusing. Asked a localite group who asked us to follow them on their way to Kalyan Darwaja and with most of the attractions falling on the way. They were too brisk for our pace and we had to run to catch up with them of not being left out in the high bushed path.
Clicked whatever ruins I came across on the way. This might have been an entrance to something.
This was a part of the temple, which I was so eager to see- just slabs of rocks remaining.
Saw this lying off the path- confused whether it was an anchor sign, a sword- certainly looks different to the regional architecture of those times.
The Sabhagruha (Hall)- the walls seem coated with cement.
The lake....calm and to some extent scary.
We reach the end of the plateau with the other guys descending to make their way up to the other. Revel wasn't ready for the climb, Raj couldn’t make it- I was eager but knowing that it would take an hour, abandoned the plan. Was already 5 then.
We started the tiring walk backwards- these people had made us hike for nearly 40 minutes and it had to be repeated all over.
We're back from where we started, took a cool face wash and walked around to get a few shots of the hills.
Ventured to the other side of the hill for a shot of me.
Started our descend around 6 pm with Revel's knee in bad pain. He was limping on the descends, but bravado took a lot lesser breaks compared to the one he took while going up. Maybe it was the fear of being lost in the dark that was pushing him. Not to mention the safety shoes I was wearing turned out to be painfully uncomfortable with my toes hitting the hard tip on every jerk. The local group who'd gone to Kalyan Darwaja overtook us mid-way. Stopped over at the stream to freshen up (poor Revel fell here again) and walked all the way till the temple. Took one last shot of the beauty in dark...looks so mystic doesn't it?

Found new company on the way - see him smiling in the background.... he should be- after all we emptied our packet of biscuits to his treat.

Was a lovely trek- felt like I found my missing love after years. But this trek won't subdue the affection I have for these hills- I'll be staring at it the same way I used to 20 years back. 
In case anyone planning to trek this wonderful place, it would be my humble request to please exercise cleanliness- you may carry all the waste back to base in your bag. There’s no one to clean up there except the trekkers who are kind enough to do all the cleaning. Let us not pass on this unnecessary responsibility on to them.

Well HERE are some beautiful memories of the trek, hope you find Mahuli as lovely as we did.  On the jolly part- I never looked so horrible as I've looked on this trek...damn I look so scary- like some c-grade south Indian movie villain ;) 

Direction info: Nearest railway station is Aasangaon. If traveling by road from Mumbai, when nearing Aasangaon you find a signboard reading MANAS MANDIR on the left, get off the highway and carry on with the road till it ends near Mahuli Temple. This diversion is approximately 55 kms after IRB Toll Naka. There is a small shop near the temple where you can buy biscuits and stuff. Light breakfast (wada, tea etc) can be availed at a small snack stall at the Mahuli village entrance. Carry sufficient water as there is no source on the way. The cistern at the entrance doesn’t hold potable water. There might be other cisterns too, which I didn’t come across. The lake water too doesn’t hold potable water. The trek is easy, but time consuming. Hence in summers two litres of water dissolved with Glucon-D and Electral (to prevent cramps) is advisable per person.