Trek to Raireshwar–Kenjalgad was my first trek for 2008 and with Bhramanti after a long time.
We were six of us (all male group). Trek leader – Kiran and deputy – Gopal. We met at B’bay Central on 25th night and took a bus to Wai. Reached Wai at 4am. It was extremely cold. Then took 5am connecting bus to Khavli Village reaching there about 6am. From the bus stop we walked to the Shri Navlaidevi temple (about 1.5km) from where we could get a clear view of Kenjalgad. While we were discussing on the route to take, we sighted the Kamalgad fort on the other side of the Walki river. We were informed by locals that we could do Kamalgad fort and return back to Khavli by noon and then proceed to Kenjalgad. We were very much tempted of doing this fort and hence took a jeep & proceeded to Vasole village (Kamalgad base) – 45mins journey.
We refreshed ourselves at one of the local’s house and taking directions from him started the trek around 9am. But to our dismay we took the wrong path (twice) and ventured into unknown territory. It was 12noon and we were all exhausted and terribly upset on not getting the right track. It was decided to abandoned the Kamalgad trek and return back to Khavli asap and proceed to Kenjalgad as per original plan. We returned back to Vasole and took the 3pm bus to Khavli reaching there in about 45mins. We started our trek at 4pm.
Kenjalgad - Height : 1302mts - 4273ft
There is a proper road coming up from Khavli to Korle village (near Raireshwar) which cuts across near Kenjalgad. Korle is connected to Bhor. However, we decided to stick to the trail which cuts across the road at many intersections and steadily climbing reached Kenjalmachi village by about 5.45pm. We were very close to the rockwalls of the fort. Noting the final directions from the locals there, we climbed up to near the rockwalls and carefully traversed the rockwall. The view from here is simply AWE! The blue waters of Walki river, Kamalgad fort, Navra Navri pinnacles jutting out from the Kamalgad range and Panchgani hills in a distance. We reached Kenjalgad fort entrance at 630pm. As it was getting dark we quickly decided to proceed to the fort, look around and descend to the base village, Pakeroste.
After taking a few pics we got down the fort and further descended to Pakeroste village, a small hamlet and stayed overnight at the Village school. It was extremely cold at night & we were desperately trying to get into our sleeping bags at the earliest. Kiran organized the dinner and lights were switched off by 11pm.
Kenjalgad Fort (history) – Source ‘The Gazetteers Dept’
Kenjalgad or Ghera Khelanja Fort, (Wai Taluka) 4,269 feet above sea level, is situated on the Mandhardev spur of the Mahadev range eleven miles north-west of Wai. It is a flat-topped hill of an irregular oval shape, about 250 yards long and one hundred yards wide at the extremes, looking remarkably strong both from a far and near. But on ascending it is found to be commanded by the Yeruli Asre and Doicivadi plateaus about two miles to the east which are easily ascended from the Wai side, and the Jambli hills about a mile to the west. The fort forms a village in itself but has to be ascended from the villages of Asre or Khavli which lie at its foot on the Wai side. The ascent is by about two miles of a very steep climb or the Asre-Titeghar bridle path can be followed for two miles and then a tolerably easy path leads due west from the pass another mile on to the fort. The fort is a black scarp rising vertically from the main ridge which is hogbacked. The scarp is one of the highest in any of the Satara forts and reaches in places eighty to a hundred feet. The only entrance is on the north side up a set of a hundred steps running parallel to the line of the scarp till within four or seven feet of the top, when they turn at right angles to it and cut straight into a passage leading on to the top. The steps are peculiarly imposing and differ from any others in the district. Thus on entering, the scarp is on the left and there is nothing on the right till the passage is reached, and invaders ascending would be liable to be hurled back over the cliff. At the foot of the steps is a bastion which evidently flanked a gateway. There are remains of six large and three small buildings, all modern. The head-quarters or kacheri is only marked by a large fig tree. The only building thoroughly recognizable is the powder magazine on the west which is about thirty feet square with strong stone walls three feet thick and seven feet high and three feet of brick on the top. The walls of the fort were originally of large square cut blocks of unmortared stone, but were afterwards added to in many places.
They are in most places fully four feet thick and including the rampart about eight feet thick. There was a parapet of lighter work mostly ruined. The fort has three large water tanks about forty feet square and six small ones for storage of water and grain. But there is no living spring inside the fort. The largest tank is in the southern face and is quite thirty feet deep. The tanks were emptied when the fort was dismantled by blowing up the outer sides which were formed by the ramparts and letting the water empty itself down the hill side. On the west is a sort of nose projecting beyond and a little lower than the main ridge of the fort, also strongly fortified. There is a narrow promenade on the ridge at the foot of the scarp and on the north side is a large cave with excellent water and partly used for storage purposes. The village lies about 300 feet below on a ledge of the northern hill slope. To its immediate west is a dense temple grove of jambhul and anjan. The village of Voholi, on the north side of this range, the inhabitants of which were part of the hereditary garrison, is in a hollow to the north-west. Khelanja fort is said to have been built by the Bhoj Rajas of Panhala who flourished in the twelfth century. Its remarkable strength was noticed by Mr. Elphinstone who says it could scarcely be taken if resolutely defended. The guns on the Kenjalgad fort opened fire before surrendering to the detachment sent by General Pritzler up the Wai valley about the 26th of March 1818.
Raireshwar - Height : 1398 mts - 4589 ft
27th Jan – wakeup time was 6am, and we finished all our chores by 10am and departed from Pakeroste to Raireshwar. It took us about 1.5hrs to reach the ladder point below Raireshwar. It may be noted that within the next 6-8 months Pakeroste village will be connected by road to Khavli & Korle greatly helping this remote village with better amenities & development. Getting back on the trek, we carefully climbed the ladder & traversed the small rocky patch with the help of a fixed rope ( both placed by villagers) thus reaching Raireshwar by 12.30pm.
The Oath of Independence - at Raireshwar
Raireshwar is well placed in the Maratha History. The Raireshwar Teple houses a ‘Pindi’ and a brass mask of Lord Raireshwar (Shiva). When Shivaji was seventeen, he decided to transform what were till then simply games to a reality. He and his friends encouraged by Jijabai and his Guru Dadoji Kondeo; decided to take a formal oath to free the country from the shackles of Muslim tyranny. This was done in the year 1645 in a dark cavern housing a small temple to the Hindu God Shiva (locally called Raireshwar). Here Shivaji and his select band of teenaged Maratha friends slit their thumbs and poured the blood oozing from it on the Shiva-linga. By this act they declared a blood-feud against Mughal tyranny. This was the beginning of a long and arduous Maratha-Mughal struggle that went on for the next century and a half to culminate in the defeat of the Mughals and their replacement by the Marathas as the dominant power in India when the British came into the scene.
After paying due obeisance at both the temples there we proceeded to one of the villagers house to rest. We spent about ½ hr there and then proceeded back to the ladder. We did not have much time to see around the fort (leaving that for next time) and proceeded back to the ladder and further on hastily descending the hill to reach Vadavli village in time to catch the 330pm Vasole-Wai bus. We reached Wai around 430pm, but could not get a connecting bus to Mumbai, hence had to proceed to Pune and take a connecting bus to Mumbai, finally reaching home at 12 midnight. All in all, it was a good trek, very good team, excellent rapport was developed during the trek and great teamspirit was displayed by all members.