Hey guys, last weekend was super excited for us. It’s monsoon here in Pune, India, and the whole countryside is green and wet. The hills are covered with green velvets of fresh grass. Rivers are filled. Waterfalls flow from the mountains. The breezes carry the scent of earthy paddy fields blowing everywhere. It’s the season of life and a perfect time for trekking.
Remember Shivaji Trails Project I mentioned last year. Being inspired by the great warrior king of Maharashtra, Shivaji Maharaj, we wanted to follow his footsteps to the forts he built and conquered. We love trekking, and we have been visiting a number of forts around the state of Maharashtra and other part of India for so many years. This project is going to collect all those beautiful memories we had on such journies.
I have set up a Facebook page, Shivaji Trails, for the purpose of interacting with other people who loves trekking and traveling in general. Do follow us because we are going to a new place every weekend, and it will be update there.
There were also things that felt so familiar in this trip. Since we have been spending our lives like city people for 7 months, going back to the mud and dirt did bring back some good ole memories, reminding us we are grounded and humble people. I also went back to use my old camera because I didn’t want to risk using my new camera in the rain. I didn’t know it was so small before. But it was interesting to going back to be use it on auto mode.
Now let me tell you a bit about Torna Fort. Situating at the elevation of 4,603 ft above sea level, Torna For t or Prachandagad is the highest hill-fort in Pune district in the state of Maharashtra, India. It’s the first fort captured by Shivaji Maharaj, making it one of the most important forts in Maratha Empire.
Torna Fort is about 70 km from Pune. There are 2 routes from Pune to Velhe, the base village of Torna Fort— via NH 4 and taking a state highway at Khed-Shivapur, and via Khadakwasla through the scenic hills to Velhi. I would recommend the later as the condition of the road is better, and the sceneries along the journey are breathtaking.
We started from Pune at 6.00 am. Unlike other trips, I wasn’t fully prepared. I might be forgetting my old trekking routine. I didn’t make a picnic basket and forgot to pack the first aid kit in our backpack. But the good thing about not packing any food from home is we get to try the local delights.
For breakfast we stopped at the base village of Signagad Fort as it was on the way to Torna Fort. We had Kanda Poha, savory flat rice with peanuts and sev, seasoned with turmeric powder and green chili. It was filling and comforting. A glass of chai and coffee followed. I love a good and simple meal like this. Yaseen was a bit picky; he had a bag of biscuits, and picked and ate some peanuts and sav off the plates of Kanda Poha.
Around 10 am, we reached Velhe. At police station in the village, there is a parking facility and a few restaurants and small shops on the road. If you didn’t pack any food, you should parcel some food and drinking water from here. We asked the restaurant to fill our flask with hot coffee and packed some omelet and pav (Indian buns) and Kanda Poha for us. You should carry at least 1 liter of drinking water per person (2 liters in summer).
At 10.20 am, we were ready to climb up the mountains. It was raining, sometime just drizzling sometime heavy. The trail was wet and slippery, small streams running on the sides.
Yaseen refused to cross the stream because the crabs freaked him out.
When we got closer to the base of the hill where Torna Fort is located, the hilltop was covered with the thick mist.
We waited for the mist to clear out, and the boys played in the rain and cheered the winds to blow the mist away. Unfortunately, nothing happened. The mist never left
Torna Fort was covered with thick mist. We never really saw what it actually looked like from the bottom of the hill where we would be spending about 2 hours to reach the top.
At first, the path was rocky and slippery. We had to be very careful to climb up with Yaseen. Then we trekked through a narrow trail which was covered with thick shrubs. The texture of the leaves of these plants is like sandpaper, and they gave us a little rashes and itches when we touched them. But the most annoying part of this trail was those little flies that live in these shrubs. They swarmed you and bit you whenever you stopped. We tried to make it out of this shrubby trail as soon as we could.
Soon later, we reached a small flatland on the top of the first hill. It was windy and cold. We took a break here. On the west was the surreal picture of the lake met the silver sky. It took our breath away at first sight.
The wind was strong that it could blow our little boy off the mountain. We had to hold on to him and make sure he stuck to the ground.
From here, the trail got more difficult, and as we climbed up, even more adventurous. We took our time on each step. It was fun and exciting.
There on top of the mountain was where we are heading. You can see it was basically in the clound!
In this trip, Yaseen became more independent. He is adventurous and curious.
Here we got closer to the entrance of the fort. There are narrow steps that we needed to be very cautious.
And woohoo we made it!
Look at the amazing structure that is standing the test of time!
We were very proud of ourselves. But we had to come to term with the fact that we couldn’t really see anything in this thick mist!
It took us 3 hours to reach the top. Sadly, we couldn’t see anything but the mist and rain. There were a few groups of trekkers on top who greeted our little trekker with warm welcome. I love seeing people who loves travelling. Something I have noticed over the years sharing the journeys with them. The trekkers here are becoming very responsible and friendly. We usually have fun meeting new people. And we noticed less people liter on the trails these days.
At Torna Fort, it was raining heavily, and we sat on the fort wall against the cloudy sky and had lunch in the rain, shuddering in a leather jacket that was big enough to protect us. We wandered on top of the hill for a while but it was impossible to see anything so we decided to climb down.
It was about 1.45 pm when we started from the top.
Now, you might be surprise to know that climbing down from the fort is trickier than going up. You have to be very careful about where to put your foot and moved slow. It also put a lot of pressure of your legs and arms so be prepare to have whole body ache the next day.
When we reached the bottom of the hill, we washed the mud off ourselves at the river next to the paddy field. Yaseen enjoyed swimming. Then it started raining wildly so we let him play in the rain a little before we got back in the car and changed to clean clothes.
Our Shivaji Trails Facebook page is now live. Sadik, Yaseen, and I will be interacting with everyone and sharing more pictures and moment from our trek. Stay in touch and join us in this journey.
Tes (tweet to me at @Testerfly)