With the advent of a 2005, Bhramanti has planned several new treks, adventure camps and other related activities.
In conjunction with their plans, they organized their first trek of the year to Mahipatgad & Rasalgad, two lesser known, nevertheless very beautiful forts in the Mahableshwar Region.
The Trek was slated for 21st Jan to 23rd Jan. However, we had to depart for Dahivali, on the on the night of 20 th Jan. We all assembled at Bombay Central S.T.Depot at 10pm. We were 19 trekkers in all. There were some last minute cancellations as some participants could not make it due to their office problems. The group was dominated by software geeks as majority of the participants were from Hexaware Technologies, while were from Patni Computers, HDFC, Deloitte & Media. A union of all sorts!….The leader for this expedition was Nitin More and his deputy, Harshal Chandorkar. We took the 10:30pm Palanje Bus and reached Khed (via Panvel-Pen-Mahad-Poladpur) at 5am the following day, Friday.
We then took our connecting Dahivali bus at 6am and reached Dahivali at around 7:15am . After refreshing ourselves in one of the villager's house, we took of for Mahipatgad at around 9:15am .
From Dahivali it's approx 5hrs trek to Mahipatgad, if one has to leisurely climb. First we visited the Hanuman temple at Dahivali and offered our prayers. From thereon we started climbing towards Mahipatgad. Mahipatgad at 3090ft is the tallest hill in its vicinity. We climb thru the forests and reach a few Dangar settlements after about 3hrs. After which we precariously traverse a small hill and reach a prominent ridge-hill that connects the small hill to Mahipatgad. Hereon, there are two routes, one going left straight to towards Mahipatgad and the other, a longer route, going right towards Wadi Beldar and onto Mahipatgad. Unknowingly, we take the second route and move towards the right side of the hill. The narrow route steeply climbs uphill, traversing a portion of Mahipatgad and reaches another prominent ridge. From here we could see a path descending down to Wadi Beldar. We reached Wadi Beldar at around 2:30pm and settled down for lunch at Sakaram Jadhav's house. We were overwhelmed by his hospitality. After lunch and rest for about an hour we left for the fort. On our request, Sakaram Jadhav decided to guide us to the fort and show us around.
Behind the wadi, a path climbing up a steep spur takes us to the fort top in 45mins. Traversing the hill on the left we reach a point where three paths branch off. One to the left goes to a bastion, the path straight ahead goes uphill and the path on the right which we took climbed above a stream on the way and reached an old stone dam. Finally, the trekkers reached the fort by around 4pm and all of them rested near the stone dam for a while. Meanwhile, Dinesh and Vijay opted to check out a hidden tunnel nearby & with the help of the local guide who with his hatchet found the way to the tunnel thru dense thickets. The tunnel is about 2ft wide and approx 25ft in length and has opening on both sides. Might have been used as a secret tunnel to enter into the fortifications.
From the stone dam we crossed an open clearing and came to a path turning to the left at 90 degrees. There are two constructed steps at this point. Climbing up these steps, we follow the path, passing a huge limestone rock and within 10-15mins reach a renovated, spacious ‘ Pareshwar Mahadev Temple '. The temple is electrified and spacious enough to accomadate atleast 25 people at ease. There is an old water tank right in front of the temple. Purification tabs are advised if the water is to be used for drinking. We settled down at the temple for the night. Sakaram, our guide then offered to take us to the eastern part of the fort from where one could view the entire Mahableshwar range. We go thru the forests and reached the eastern part of the fort. The view from here is extremely beautiful. One could see the entire range of Mahableshwar, faint view of the bungalows and constructions atop Mahableshwar and the valley below. According to our guide the fort on the opposite range is Chakdev. A couple of us then moved to the south-east, to check out the Yeshwantdindi gate/bastion which is in a ruined condition. From here one could view, Mitakhada hill, Sumargad and a faint view of Rasalgad. After a brief photo session we returned back to the temple. Enroute, again a few - Kapil, Dinesh, Sandeep, Nilesh & the guide went tunnel-hunting deep in the forest. This tunnel was much wider than the previous one, however the other end was blocked. The guide then returned back to Beldar wadi and the trekkers to the temple. As it was already quite late in the evening we had to skip the rest of the fort tour. Maybe, the next time around. The kitchen was set in the temple premises and soup followed by dinner was served. We also had a bonfire. The climate was not at all chill as expected during January. Finally, we called it a day by around 11pm .
About Mahipatgad : (Source : Sahyadri Companion)
This rectangular fort, extending north-south covers an area of approx 120 acres. As there are vertical sheer cliffs on all the sides of the fort, there is not much fortifications. Only a few bastions were constructed at some weak spots. These bastions are presently in a dilapidated state. A special feature of the fort are its six entrances or gates – the Kotwal gate on the north, the Laldevdi gate on the north-east, the Pusati gate to the east, the Yeshwant gate to the south-east, the Khed gate to the south and the Shivganga gate to the west. There is a Shivling near the Shivganga gate while there used to be a ladder in the Pusati gate. The Khed gate was the main entrance for thoroughfare. Currently, all these entrances are in a ruined condition.There is a dense forest on the top and a lot of ruins are hidden in this forest. Near the old dam to its south lie a lot of ruins of houses and horse stables. Approximately, at the centre of the fort, are ruined templed of Ganesh and Maruti. At a lot of places, ruins of narrow but long structures can be seen. One can see huge limestone blocks at various points on the fort. These were used for construction purposes during the olden days. To see the complete fort, a day's halt is required.
The next morning , we all woke up by 6am and after finishing our morning chores & light breakfast, descended Mahipatgad and reached Sakaram's house at Wadi Beldar by 9am .Sakaram again joined us to show the way to Rasalgad via Sumargad.
The Mahipatgad – Rasalgad trek is a long one and takes nearly 6-7hrs to reach either destinations. Note : There are 3-4 water points enroute however all of them were dry. Hence its very important and advisable to carry adequate drinking water. We crossed Beldar wadi and reached a dry stream. Crossing the stream we ascended a hill and entered the forest. Climbing thru the forest we reached a vantage point. We took a left here, moved into the forest and traversed thru the same & reached ‘GurKhind'. At this point, the path to the left leads to Sumargad while the one descending straight leads to Rasalgad. Trek to Sumargad (2900ft) involves 2hrs trailing from Gurkhind and also rock-climbing to reach its top. As most of us were not accustomed with rock climbing, we dropped the idea of going to Sumargad. We took the straight path and after a few minutes, the path turned left and we started traversing Sumargad. While traversing one could get to see beautiful views of Sumargad and it's different rock faces. We again reached a small ridge, traversing past which we reached a lone abandoned Dangar house. Passing which, we could see on our left, the entire fort of Rasalgad in a distance. It's still another 2hrs to the fort from here. The route from here is somewhat exposed & tricky. One has to traverse the entire hill from here and the grassy path is very narrow. We were advised to stick to our right as there was an extreme fall on the left. We reached the edge of the hill, descended steeply thru the grassy trail and reached another ridge where there is a huge tree. Took rest for a while. Our guide showed us the way ahead and returned back to Beldar wadi.
We again descended the steep ridge, took a left and followed the trail. The trail reached a point again on top of the hill and crossed onto the other side of the hill and descended thru a snake-like path down to a lone house & fields nearby. From here, we took a left and traversed on a circular trail parallel to a ridge. Here we met two villagers who were high up on the ridge. Upon enquiry, they told us that we were going in a wrong direction and asked us to climb straight up the ridge. We followed their instructions and reached the top of the ridge and came face to face with Rasalgad. From here a trail descended into Rasalwadi and all of us reached there by around 4pm . After tea and snacks at a local's house, we proceeded to Rasalgad fort which is at a distance of about 15mins from Rasalwadi. We passed the village and climbed up a spur where a huge Sintex tank is fixed (for water supply from the water tanks on the fort to the village). From here we took a left and reached the first entrance of the fort. After we passed the first gate we reach a small Hanuman mandir. Recently cemented steps to the right lead to the second gate and finally onto the fort.
About Rasalgad :
Rasalgad has been declared a protected monument and the fortifications are still in a good condition. It's a small fort, covering about 5 acres. But there are a lot of remnants on the fort. The main attraction on the fort is the temple of Zolai Devi . In front of the temple, stands a beautiful Deepmal.The spacious temple with electric supply, is ideal for a night's stay. There is a water tank just next to it. Beyond the water tanks, next to the temple, lie ruins of the main house. There is a water tank behind the temple which was mainly used for the cattle. In front of the temple stands a granary, with ponds around it. There are a total of nine cannons on the fort including one small cannon (about 3ft) placed near the temple. Though heavy, it can be carried around with the help of two people.
We explored the entire fort and returned back to the temple to spend the night. However, this time we had requested one of the villagers at Rasalwadi to cook dinner for us. We managed to prepare some soup and finally dinner arrived at around 9pm . After dinner, we all retired for the day.
The next morning, we all wokeup by 5am, packed our bags and descended the fort. From where the Sintex tank is placed we took a left, descended about 20ft and started traversing the hill. Threading thru a faint trail in the darkness we traversed the entire Rasalgad range and reached a tar road which lead us to Nimani village. We reached there around 6:15am and got onto the ST bus (which came there the previous night from Khed).
The bus departed at 6:45am and reached Khed at around 8am . After a quick breakfast, we boarded the 9am bus for Mumbai and reached Dadar at 3pm . Finally, everyone reached home by around 4pm. Guess, each of us were tired and exhausted to the core. Nevertheless, all the participants thoroughly enjoyed the Mahipatgad – Rasalgad trek.