23rd Mar 2008
There were a total of six persons for the Sudhagad trek conducted by Bhramanti.
The participants were Gopal – Trek Lead, Kiran, Winnith, Laxmikant, Ahmad and Rakesh.
Laxmikant and Winnith met at Mumbai Central Depot to make ST bus arrangements to Nagotne, where we planned to halt for the night. But since it was a weekend, reservations in all the buses were full. After several unsuccessful attempts to get seats in the buses going via Nagotne, they finally managed to get two seats in the last row of an unreserved bus going to Chiplun. The bus started from Mumbai Central at 10:30 pm . It reached Panvel around 11:45 pm , but due to the large number of standing passengers, the bus did not take in any more passengers at Panvel. That left Gopal, Ahmad, and Rakesh stranded at Panvel at mid night. But instead of losing heart they went on the highway and tried to get a ride on a private vehicle. Their efforts paid off and finally they got a mini bus which dropped them off at Nagotne.
Laxmikant and Winnith reached Nagotne at 1:30 at night and walked to the Nagotne bus dept which is about 8 – 10 minutes walk from the highway. Gopal, Ahmad and Rakesh also reached the bus depot about 45 minutes later. After passing the night at the depot (sleep was a distant dream as the mosquitoes were on duty full time), they caught the bus to Pali at around 6:30 in the morning. It was a short journey (about 20 minutes) and they reached Pali at around 7 am . Breakfast was at the canteen in the depot and it consisted of poha , vada and chai . Kiran took the 7:15 bus from Panvel and reached Pali at around 9:15 . Since they had to pass the night without any sleep Gopal and Ahmad caught up on that by sleeping on the benches at the depot while Laxmikant, Rakesh and Winnith decided to explore the Sarasgad range. After reaching a height where they could get a good view of the village below, they descended and reached the depot in time to join the others in the group on the bus to Dhondse gaon. At around 10:30 we started the long hike up to the top of Sudhagad. On the way we met a couple of trekkers who told us to ensure we had enough water due to the summer heat and dryness. So at one of the village houses, we filled all our bottles with water and resumed the journey. The approach road before the actual climb from Dhondse is quite long and it took us about 45 minutes. The trail up was quite clear and we were guided on our way by some useful arrow marks and directions provided by locals we met on the way up. Though there was a good forest cover which provided us protection from the heat, we had to take frequent breaks in between for water and snacks to refill our depleting energy reserves. On the way up there was a small Hanuman Temple and beside that was a water tank with clear and cool water which we drank and refreshed ourselves with. At around 1:15 pm we reached the entrance to Sudhagad, which had the same architecture as the entrance to Raigad, the only difference was that the walls of the Sudhagad entrance were more worn off due to lack of any maintenance. From here the trek was relatively easier as the incline was not much, and we reached the Bhorai temple on top in about half an hour . Here we saw a couple of guys taking measurements, which they said was for making a map of the fort & tree plantation. There was a resting place (Wada) a few minutes further ahead from the temple. After the long hard trek up in the summer heat this was a big relief to our tired legs. The locals on top spread some mattresses for us and after having lunch which everyone had brought, we had a very restful sleep till 6 in the evening. We woke up to the good smell of hot aloo poha and adhrak ki chai which was prepared for us by the local lady who was staying on top of the fort with her family. We had provided all the necessary ration to them. A cow on top managed to eat the carrots and cucumbers and a packet of biscuits which we had carried along by digging into one of our bags. The sleep and evening snacks refreshed us a lot and we set off with our cameras for clicking photos and exploring the flat top around. The top of the fort is mostly a flat plateau and good for walking around. We get a good view of adjacent mountain peaks from here ( Telbaila Dyke, Dhangad & Sarasgad)We reached a flat patch at one end where we all sat down to rest, gazing at the stars and the skies, away from the pollution and traffic of urban life.
We returned back to the wada and had a delicious dinner of khichdi and soup, again prepared by the local lady with the material we had provided. After dinner we again went for a stroll out and for some more star gazing. The night breeze and the climate on top was so pleasant that Rakesh, who generally never sleeps before 2 in the morning, was soon asleep out there in the open under a clear blue sky and snoring in ever increasing decibels. Finally we decided to call it a day and went back to the shed to rest for the night. It had rained during the night for an hour or so. We awoke at around 6:30 in the morning and roamed around the fort again, and clicked a few more snaps of the beautiful scenery around. It was a cloudy day again & we couldn’t get the sunrise view. At around 9:30 we started our descend down from the other side of the fort towards Thakurwadi. The descent was at a much faster pace. On the way down, there was a ladder at one place, due to the steepness of the mountain at that section. We reached the village at around 11 am just in time to catch the bus to Pali depot. Here again we were able to board a bus which was to leave for Mumbai at 1. After reserving our seats in the last row of the bus we went out and had a good thali lunch at a nearby restaurant. The bus started on time and we all reached Mumbai by early evening.
Written By: Winnith & Gopal
27-28th Aug 2005
In the early morning of 26th of August, when the city of Mumbai had just celebrated the birth of Lord Krishna and was gearing up for the Dahi-Handi celebration, a group of 14 participants were making their way to Karjat. Bhramanti had arranged a trek to Sudhagad, the 2nd century BC fort near Pali. From Karjat we had an option to either wait for a Pali bus or take a break journey to Khopoli and then to Pali. We went by the latter route and reached Pali by about 11:45. The bus to Pachapur which was the base village for our climb was at 12:45.
So we decided to utilize the time and have a quick snacks. Pali was in celebration mood for Dahi Handi and there were professional groups dancing in the lanes and rains. The bus pulled in at the exact time and we were soon on our way to the historical village of Pachapur. History records that Pachapur is the meeting place of Sambhaji Raje and Akbar.
Alighting at Pachapur we could see Sudhagad towering over us. The fort is at a height of 2030 feet. The ST stop is almost on the start of the route. Without wasting time, the leader Ajay and deputy Jyoti gave the instructions and off we went. Though it was sunny and hot, the group did cover quick ground. Since this was a relatively simpler trek , we were proceeding with enough breaks for photographs. Soon we reached the ladder. There were two ladders. The older one was unused and Nitin told us that the newer one might be about 2-3 yrs old. It was in a very good state. Climbing the ladder we were getting a panoramic view of the surrounding of the fort. We could see a river in the distance curving away to glory.
Very soon we reached the Pachapur Darwaja. As I had heard the route has three levels of doors and the first level was in a totally ruined condition.
Some parts of the route had gone victim to landslides and we had to be careful sometimes. But most part of the route was simple. Then we reached the steps of the fort. Here we had some excitement, when a really huge snake slithered between Nitin's feet and down the stairs. Not exactly the sort of welcome we had signed up for :).
We had already been informed that Sudhagad has a larger share of reptiles and insects. Once we reached the top of the fort, we found a small set of stairs going down to the verandah of the fort. Even those steps were infected with lizards, frogs etc.
We were enjoying the sight here, but we had a long distance to cover and we started moving. Soon we reached the lake on the top. As per the map I was carrying, there were 3 lakes on the top. And two temples too - Shiv Mandir and BhoraiDevi. Its said that BhoraiDevi is the presiding deity of the PantSachivs of Bhor village. That is why Sudhagad was earlier knows as Bhorapgad. Its latter on that Marathas changed the name to Sudhagad. We reached the Shiv Mandir. Once you reach the Shiv Mandir, you go across the lake that you find on the right.
Going ahead we reach the Wada (House). This is where trekkers rest. The wada is in a very good state and there is potable water nearby also. Instead of going to the house we roamed about on the plateau. We could see the Tel Baila wall on the right and Sarasgad fort on the left. After some time we returned to the wada and began preparations for dinner.
Under the able guidance of head chef K.K preparations for Khichdi started in full earnest. Some of us went out to have a look at the clear skies to see if we could see Mars as some mails had been circulated which said the Mars would be as clear as a moon on the night of 27th. Mars or no mars but we enjoyed the clear skies with millons of stars. Each one came up with his information about the constellations, time travel etc. All this information overload got people hungry and soon were relishing the khichdi.
The night sleep was very comfortable and most of us woke up at around 6:30 am in the morning. And none of us were expecting the beautiful surprise awaiting for us. We went sight seeing and suddenly we saw a blanket of clouds and Sarasgad was floating on the blanket. Though I have never been there :) but this was closest to heaven as shown in movies. Words will surely fall short and you must check the photograph to understand the experience. That done we went roaming around the fort area. And then back to the wada. Soon the rest of the group woke up and K.K got back to making poha. Mukhtesh decided that since there was a paucity of milk powder we should try lemon tea and it did taste really good.
Poha done, we started our journey back. We went to the Bhorai temple first. As per the map there had to be a secret exit nearby. But we did not find it. Anyways we took darshan at the temple and started our descent that would take us to Dhonse village. We first reached the exit door and it was huge and in a pretty good shape.
After descending for about an hour we reached the Tanaji tanks. There are small caves on either sides filled with water. It was actually filled to the brim and water was overflowing. There was a carved image of Tanaji near one of the caves. Also on the route was a temple of Hanumanji and villagers tell that its the only idol with a moustache. Soon we reached a diversion. One route was leading to 'Chor Wat' and other was descending to the right. I realised that this would be the route that would have taken us to the secret exit that we were unable to find on the top. Anyways we took the right descent and after another hour of trekking we reached a stream. Thankfully the route was all marked with white arrows. So we crossed the stream and soon reached the village.
After you reach the tar road, one has to walk another kilometre to reach the bus stand. We met a couple of villagers on the way. They say that on Dassera day there is a festival of 9 days on the top of the fort. So the road is reparied and there are crowds of trekkers coming to celebrate Dassera. The villagers go along with their family to the top. This was something different that what i had heard. It reminded me of people burning Holi on top of Rajgad.
Soon the whole group reached the S.T stand. After changing into dry clothes, we waited for the S.T bus. We got a bus directly for Thane. Still we decided to take a Pali ticket and see if we have any better options at Pali. And it turned out to be a good decision, because we found a bus directly to Borivali. So all of us shifted into the Borivali bus and we spend the rest of the night singing and sleeping.
I still cant forget the sight of Sarasgad floating amongst the clouds. Do surely check the photographs.
Written By: Krishna W.