Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Travel: Raigad Fort Trek 2009

Hi GOOD DAY!
HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you!!! :)

How did you welcome the new year?? I celebrated it in style & unique way ;)

We went trekking to Raigad fort. We started on 30th night, reached 31st, spent the entire day & night on the fort, on 1st post lunch trekked down the fort.

Awesome experience. Got to work on 1 of my goals: Exploring minimum 3forts of Maharashtra by end of 2010. 1fort done! ;) Didnt expect to directly hit the capital fort of Shivaji Maharaj :)

In short about Raigad, meaning the King's fort. It was the capital of Shivaji's empire. It was earlier called Rairi.

Please check more details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raigad_fort

I will just give a brief description of each snap I have uploaded to give you details about the fort & our Trek groups activities.

We had joined a trekking group called 'Vedh'. This group keeps arranging treks to the forts of Maharashtra, but their favourite one is Raigad. They always attend the Shiv jayanti, Crowning celebration, Birthday of the fort-when it was renamed Raigad,....

The distinguishing feature about this group is they just dont trek but try to make a difference & help improve the environment of the fort. This time they had organised a Cleanliness drive. We collected as many plastic bottles/bags, thermacole items,... all inorganic items which were then taken back to mumbai & recycled.

We also had with us Mr Suresh Wadkar who has been doing research on this fort for the past 30years & has a target of doing 1008 treks in his lifetime. Till date he has done approx 600+ & 60+pradikshina's of the fort. He has knowledge about the nooks & corners of the fort & the hills, the birds, plants, snakes all animals.

Also the trek being on 31st dec made it more exciting.


We reached 'Chit darwaja' at around 5:30am on 31st dec 2009. As you can see the horizon was starting to get a tinge of sunrise. This Darwaja is at the foothills near the village Pachad. From here there are steps leading to the top of the fort approx: 1450steps. But we took a different route which led us to the 'Nana Darwaja' meaning small doorway.

The 50 trekkers of Vedh. Age group ranging from 10years to 70 years :), all high-spirited & active. The person in center in orange kurta is Suresh Wadkar, we called him Kaka.

The fort, which rises 820 metres (2,700 ft) above sea level, is located in the Sahyadri mountain range. The views were beautiful.


One can also reach the top via the Rope way which hardly takes 15mins to reach at the top.

The Nana Darwaja the small doorway to the fort. They say from here elephants & camles too have passed. Now only the structure of the doorway remains. Our group cleaned all the creepers, garbage,plants from every nook & corner of this doorway & now it looks much newer & stronger.

Break time. Kaka-Suresh Wadkar posing for the camera while we took a break & checked for more plastic waste.

The famour Hirkani Buruj can be seen from here. There is a story saying Shivaji & his troops never built a boundary wall or Buruj around this spot coz it was impossible for anyone to climb down or up from here. The fort gates used to be closed after sunset. One day a lady Hirabai got late & had to reach the village at the foothills to meet her baby, since the gates were closed & the soldiers wouldnt open the gates, she climbed down the hill through this spot & returned to the fort the next morning as was her usual routine to deliver milk. The soldiers were shocked & informed Shivaji, who in return called Hirabai, heard her story, were amazed at her bravery & motherly love, honoured her with saree,jewels,.. named the spot Hirkani buruj & built a boundary wall around it.

The 2Buruj near the Main doorway or Maha Darwaja. Each of these Buruj is called Jay & Vijay. Looking at them, one can understand how the fort must have defied so many attacks & still stands strong. Mammoth!


At the Maha Darwaja, listening to Kaka's naration about the fort.

Top view of the Maha darwaja & the watch posts to keep an eye on the enemy's movement & who all coming up the fort.

The top of the fort. Hathi Talao or Elephant lake. There are 30 such man made lakes & 100 water tanks on the fort to store water throughout the year. Since this area doesnt have enough water & no water tables to fill up wells, the fort & its water storing provision was well thought & planned. They say in this lake elephants used to bathe. There were 2 elephants on top of the fort during those times.

The Shirkaai temple. A family-Shirke whos family godess this is, used to worship her & this temple belonged to them. Hence the name Shirkaai.

Closer look. She is similar to the Tuljapur godess.
The Hathi talao closer look. It is 30feet deep, no wonder elephants used to bathe here.

The Ganga sagar Talao. They say water from the Ganges was poured here which was brought for Shivaji's Coronation ceremony.


The tower where the queens used to watch the cultural programs from. It was so equipped that there was a water tank on top, from which water used to flow through pipes in such force that when it used to sprout into a water basin inside the hall of the tower it used to form a fountain. The windows of the tower used to covered with 'sheet' curtains which used to allow person from inside to see outside but no 1 from outside can see within, like our modern day glasses.
The drop from the Hirkani Buruj. How did Hirabai have the Guts to climb down such a steep way!!!


The endless Horizon. Check out the sky limit. Cant distinguish where the mountain range ends & the sky begins.


The MTDC quarters. Good lodging provisions.Food is also good.

The Rayja Darbar or courtrooms & offices of Shivaji Maharaj.
The Rani vyasa. The queens quarters, there were 4such quarters for each of Shivaji's queens & all were interconnected & had their own washrooms with well provisioned plumbing. There are 2more quarters which were used as kitchens.

The Rajya darbar, offices of Shivaji.

The Darbar & replica of the kings throne facing the 'Nagarkhana Darwaja'. This darbar is so designed that even you whisper near the Darwaja, every word can be clearly heard near the throne. It denotes when in the presence of the king communicate loudly & clearly, dont back bitch or whisper.



Janta Raja, or the all-understanding King. He never made any harsh judgements or partiality towards anyone. He heard & understood everyones tale & gave always the correct judgement. Was all-forgiving also, harsh to criminals, kind, caring, discipline lover, hated injustice, protector of ladies,children & the poor.


We did a 'Triwar Mujra' or 3times salute to the king! :) Still get the goose bumbs remembering the moment. Felt elated, thankful, gratitude & the feeling that we could give atleast something back to the king who has done so much for everyone!

Had a campfire before the Night walk to the Samadhi at 12pm. Sang a lot of marathi songs which I had never heard of ;). Cant call myself a music lover now :(.

The night walkers! We started off on the fort at 11:45pm to light a diya at Shivaji's Samadhi on the other side of the fort. IT WAS BEAUTIFUL! It was a full moon night+chilly+the lunar eclipse was starting at 12:22am.


Sunrise!!! We got up at 5:45am to catch the Sunrise after sleeping at 1:30am. Sunrise starting, at the doorway of MTDC dormitory where we were staying.


Here comes the first tip of the first sun of 2010.


Its up fully now :) Rise & Shine!!!


The Raje!


The 'Nagarkhana Darwaja' & the throne can be seen beautifully in the sunlight.


Play of light & shadow. Sat down for an aarti, which the villagers do every day.


The Statue on 'Holi maal' or Holi ground where the cultural programs used to be conducted. Indira Gandhi when she visited Raigad has asked to install a statue here, coz the place looked empty. So this statue was specially built, brought here in parts & then welded together. Can you make out if its an entire statue or welded together piece by piece??


The Krshisagar talao. In this lake, water from Trimbakeshwar,Nashik was poured coz it was not possible to go to Nashik all the time. The temple opposite this belonged to the family god of Shivaji's Prime minister. His residence & samadhi too are nearby this lake. Beyond this lake the edge of the mountain starts. Hence the lake & its outlets are so designed so that when the lake overflowed in rainy season the fish in the lake didnt get drained out. The outlets had mesh like stones fitted which drained the excess water but the fish remained. What planning!

The Wagh Darwaja. This way was very dangerous & a person with the heart of a tiger could only pass this way.It was never used & proved helpful when the last of Shivaji's heir needed to escape. It has deep valleys beyond it.


Now you know why its called Wagh Darwaja? :)

The Prime minisiter's samadhi.

This odd structure or cave like room is a wonder. Checking the water collected here during rainy season, one could predict the amount of rainfall to be received for the next 100 years. Please some1 show this to our MET department :P


The Rope way station.


The bazar peth or Market place.The Bazar used to be conducted here. They were built so that traders didnt loot the comman man & there was control on what was being sold. Here one could buy anything from groceries to steel to gold,... Traders from outside maharashtra too came to trade here. There were built so that people on horseback could do their shopping without getting down. There are 22such shops on each side.



This a 6th shop which was owned by the Head of this Bazar peth & who supervised the dealings. It has the distinctive snake carving.


The Jagdeshwar temple near the Samadhi of Shivaji maharaj. This temple too was totally destroyed by the Mughuls.



This is a temple but looks like a Masjid. It must have been altered to look like that.


The Shilalekh.


Shivaji Maharaj's Samadhi



SAVECHEA THAYE TATPAR HIROJI INDULKAR. Meaning: Always at your service,Hiroji Indulkar. He was the chief architect of most of buildings,forts of Shivaji. Even Raigad was designed & built under his supervision.


They say this is the samadhi of Shivaji's favourite dog-Waghya. Shivaji didnt have a dog named Wagha. It belongs to some moneylendor who at that time lended money for the restoration of the samadhi & in return asked to build a monument for his wife's favourite dog who had died. :P



The view from 'Takmak tok', from this cliff criminals were thrown off as punishment to those who sentenced this punishment.




Long picture-story post na?

What do you think??

Next time you want to go trekking got to Raigad fort with a good guide, & enjoy to the fullest. We are really thankful to Suresh Wadkar kaka for all the information & all the bird voices he can mimic. Also to Vedh team for arranging for Kaka to join us.

Let me know about this post too. Took me 3days to make this 1 :P. Have to do the Nashik trip one too, hope that is quick.

Keep checking the blog for more travel updates.This is a month for travelling for me :D.

bye. tc.

15 comments:

  1. Hi Nilima
    Excellent work.Very informative and comprehensive.Can be used by first time visitors to the fort as a ready recknor.Keep up the good work
    cheers
    Amit moghe

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good day & Thanks Amit. I too had a gr8 time recollecting all the info,remembering the time we spent.
    Still feel I am on the fort :).
    Watch out for more posts.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nice post , cover all most all the spots on raigad

    some more info for hotel booking
    Hotel deshmukh @ pachad
    02145 - 274848/274865

    MTDC on Fort
    9422787776
    9422788424

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great write up. Even better pics! I am not a trekker. Thanks for giving me a visual tour.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks Chaitanya & Sundari.Thanks for the contact details of the hotels too.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Nav,

    I was telling my 5 yr old daughter the story of Hirkani, later after she slept, googled and your blog came up.. thank you so much for this virtual tour of Raigad. My eyes are still moist..do not know if & when will we be able to go there..
    You all are very lucky to have Shree Wadkar as your guide.
    Also felt extremely proud to know about the earth-friendly cleanliness drive taken up by Vedh.
    Thanks again for taking such efforts & keep up the great work.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow & Good day Child. This is really interesting. Glad the post is of some help.

    You can search for Vedh group to know when they are planning the next trip to Raigad & if Suresh Wadkar kaka will be joining.

    Intend, fix a date & you will have a splendid trek. Even your 5year old daughter will love it. We had 10year old kids too in the group. So not at all tough to trek. + There is the ropeway, thank god for that.

    I wish I could take my grandmother also on top of the fort :)

    All d best & may you have a gr8 trek!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi,

    This is really a very informative post... I am planning to there this week end...

    Just one question.. how's room of www.raigadropeway.com compared to MTDC? location as well as cleanliness wise?

    You got any chance to see them?

    You can respond to kmilind@rediffmail.com

    Rgds
    Milind

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi good day Milind,
    I have no idea about www.raigadropeway.com. We were lodging at MTDC. We got 2domitories since we were some 15-20ladies & 30gents. They had separate washrooms for gents & ladies. Also we were hardly stayed there except during meal times & night. But MTDC was good. There are cottages kind of accommodations too for families. Guess it depends on the group of people, the kind of people, the activities u plan to do or the amount of time you want to spend there.

    Have a great trek!
    bye. tc

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi..I am trying to get in touch with Suresh wadkar kaka. We had met a couple of times while climbing Raigad. Do you have any of his contact details? Unfortunately I lost them.Could you email them to me please?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi good day Snehal,
    I dont have the contact details of Suresh Wadka. But you can contact one of the organisers of Vedh group & check with them. They will surely have the details. You can get in touch with Vedh group :
    http://www.mumbaihikers.org/2008/04/vedh-find-explorer-in-you.html

    or on orkut, they have a community.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hey... really good one... jus one thing.... U said the marketplace has 22 shops on each side... but i guess there's 1 shop less on the left side (facing takmak).... though no idea why this is so

    ReplyDelete
  13. Too good.. excellent gauide will help for my visit to Raigad..

    ReplyDelete
  14. HI NILIMA........
    THANKS FOR THE INFORMATION, I M GOING TO RAIGAD FOR THE FIRST TIME,THIS WILL HELP ME A LOT.....!

    ReplyDelete
  15. this was very helpful...thanks a lot especially for putting in phone numbers for hotel deshmukh. it was useful. any views or experience about staying there? is it good for family?

    ReplyDelete

Hi, Let me know your Take on this.
P.S. Dont be Evil, lets play fair :)