Rajgad... Scaling The King of FortsSmeared with historical relevance, Chatrapati Shivaji’s most treasured, Rajgad - The King of Forts remains to be a favourite trekking destination. This fort has witnessed many historical milestones and is supposed to have assumed an unchallengeable and unconquerable position. Shivaji having forfeited almost 23 forts chose to retain this fort because it was indisputable and till date appears as such.
If Pune remains to be a base point, weekend getaways are in abundance, we were one of those lucky few. Having been stationed in Pune for little more than a year, opened up many doors for our weekend escapades. One such planned getaway was our trek to Rajgad fort. Our eyes were set for a long weekend, that way we could trek at our own pace, and have a day in buffer, all you trekkers know how this activity has a wicked way of catching up with your limbs the next day when you try to pull yourself out of bed.
We set course early morning at 4.30 on a Friday, monsoon in the making, chill nip in the air... Rajgad here we come!! Though it is not an appropriate time for trekking during monsoon, safety gears and sticking to the plan and route, will sail you through smoothly. The only setback could be missing out on the breath taking views, if the clouds have planned to play hide and seek.
Gunjavane is a small village, which is 40 kms south of Pune. The nearest railway is Shivaji Nagar. We reached Gunjavane at around 6.15, we parked our car with a local shopkeeper. We had a cup of hot tea, and started our trek.
There are alternative routes to reach Rajgad – 1.Pali Darwaja, 2.Chor Darwaja (the one we followed), 3.Gunjavane Darwaja, and 4. Torna Darwaja.
Our attempt to reach the fort was through the Chor Darwaja, where the degree of difficulty can be described as “moderate”. The estimated time to reach Rajgad Fort was close to about two hours, given the easy and stress-free pace we maintained. The trek though started on a slippery note, owing to the previous day’s rain. After manoeuvering a few slushy mud slopes, and walking through the foliage, there is a rocky patch with safety railings on both sides just before entering the Chor Darwaja. The place is infested with insects, covered clothing helps and one needs to be cautious about the dogs wandering around.
The Chor Darwaja opens out and one has to literally curl up to enter the magnificent fort. As we entered the Padmavati Machi, we got to see a beautifully constructed lake, with an entry through an arch way. This Machi is one of the largest of the three Machis, which surrounds the fort. All the three darwajas the Chor Darwaja, the Pali Darwaja and the Gunjavane Darwaja open in to the Padmavati Machi. The Padmavati temple houses the idol of Goddess Padmavati. We explored the fort, various passages and exit, it was massive and more like a maze. If you are planning to make a night halt like we did, it is possible only at the Padmavati temple. The locals have many make shift and mobile stalls where we hydrated ourselves with Lemon Juice. The Sanjivani Machi and the Suvela Maachi are the other view points, We chose not to explore this time, since covering all the view points could be strenuous.
We took a plunge in the water, which was inviting. As the evening approached the breeze got colder and intense. There were many eager trekkers still scaling the heights, while few were procuring wood for a campfire from the local villagers. The night was beautiful with just the silhouette of the magnificent fort, moon-lit sky and the stars dazzling. It was a totally different world, minus the electricity, buzzing horns and gizmos. The very thought of witnessing the sunrise was thrilling, we woke up early morning and blissfully watched as the first rays of sun kissed the ground. Before the mercury rose, we started descending to the base. Thank God for saving our so(u)l(e)!!!! Came back intact.
Things to be carried
- Ample water (as potable water is scarcely available).
- Sleeping Bag / Camping gear. (if you are planning a stay)
- First Aid Kit.
- Food (optional, as it can be procured locally).
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