Note: Help!!! I can't upload the pics on Blogger. Kya problem hai yaar??? Anyways you can enjoy them here. Must add this: Naveen you missed a golden chance of clicking your solo snaps in all possible royal poses.
After a successful trek of Matheran, another week was reserved for yet another trek somewhere. A late night conference call on Friday and plan was all set. As usual, some guys dropped out giving out the same plain boring and gheese peete reasons.
Ali – "Baahar Jaana Hai…" (Trekking is also going out... my friend)
Kandu – Want to rest at home (Karle Karle Rest karle... Tarzan zhad se latak latak ke thak gaya hoga)
Naveen – Want to go out to meet a friend (Kya hum tere dost nahi hain???)
There was no way, we were gonna convince them. So, it was the same group of four (Only exception being Prashant substituting Naveen) who decided to trek all the way to Lonavala to capture Fort Lohagad. The venue and time of meeting remain unchanged. Also, our official carrier was supposed to be an Express train.
We reached Lonavala at around 10:30. After a quick breakfast, it was time to head to Malavali which is just a station away from Lonavala. The trek to Lohagad starts right from the Malavali station. The striking Malavali Bridge transports you across the breathtaking Mumbai Pune Expressway.
The journey to the way Lohagad cannot be put down in words. You have to see it to believe it. The overcast skies, lush greenery, cool breeze and a little bit fog at the top of the Fort made a picturesque view. We were so overjoyed and elated to witness this eye pleasing view. Away from all the noise and pollution of the city, this place is a must visit for all those who haven’t been here and monsoon is the time to be here.
At the foot of the hills, there exits a staircase which takes one to the Bhaja caves. Though we wanted to stopover here too, but time was a big constraint. The road to the right takes you to the two forts. The largest of them is the Lohagad, the Iron Fort, which was twice captured by Shivaji. The neighbouring and smaller Fort Visapur is of much later origin and was built by the first Peshwa.
The only other fort which I have ever seen is the Fort Aguada in Goa. But, with due respect to the Portuguese, Fort Lohagad stands gigantic as a Mammoth compared to the miniscule Aguada.
The way to the top is quite effortless than it seemed. A climb of around 200 long stairs and you stand at the base of the fort. It took us just about 150 minutes to make it here. Right from the Fort Entrance gates to Maha Darwaza steps we were awed by the structure of the fort. If climbing is not enough, just imagine those workers or soldiers who must have built these strong forts with such huge stones and impeccable engineering on the top of these hills. And there were even more brave kings along with his Mawlas who captured these forts. Unbelievable!!!
Imagine these forts standing erect even celebrating its 1000th Birthday. Which other such structure can a civil engineer boast of? So, who were more advanced? Our ancestors or we?
We visited each and every part of the fort. This fort is so huge that it took us close to 4 hours just to complete one trip around it. Right from the water reservoirs to the old canon you can see it all here. And yeah, we also found the place where the main guard must have stood inside the fort. This is because from this particular place, one could get the complete top view of the fort with its walls. Just behind this Main Guard’s platform, there was this small room in the corner which I think was the place where kings must have once planned their strategies. It was a royal feeling.
Just when you feel that you have conquered the fort, you see another part of the fort which stretches far into the horizon. This part is called “Vinchukata” because it resembles “Fangs of the Scorpion”. This place was the highlight of the trek. The way to Vinchukata passes through a narrow ledge. On one side are the rocks and other side is the valley. One wrong foot and you would be gone forever. Then there is a steep slope which further adds to your difficulties. Thankfully, all 4 of us managed to make it without any damage.
It was almost 5 in the evening when we decided to leave. There was no one in sight and we were no Mawlas to protect this fort. There is a sense of achievement you feel when you sit on the fort wall and look at the far villages below. I salute those brave kings like Shivaji who managed to conquer this fort not once but twice without any modern ammunition.
Determination, grit and above all interest is all you need to scale this fort. Maybe we will conquer Fort Sindhudurg next. Animals, what say???
Night stay at a Neral Farmhouse was sponsored by Prashant's would be father-in-law. He had forbidden me from revealing this. Idharich Mistake Kar Diya. He was in the best of his behaviour that day. After all it was the question of impressing one's father-in-law. So, all you father-in-laws there, want to know the truth about your would be son-in-laws, you know where to write in at.