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   Sarasgad

Region : Pali Sudhagad Taluka (Amba Valley)
Height : 1433 ft

 

After a long, year's gap I decided to go for a trek. So I contacted trekshitiz who had planned a trek to Sarasgad on 28th Jan'07.

We met at Dombivili Stn at around 5.30am and took the Khopoli local, reaching there around 7am. We were 16 trekkers in all - 12 guys and 4 girls. Ketan Lavalekar from Trekshitiz was our leader.

From Khopoli we could not get an immediate connecting ST bus to Pali our destination, hence had to wait till around 8:20am for the bus. The bus journey took around an hour/10mins reaching Pali around 9.45am. We took darshan at the famed Shree Ballaleshwar Ganesh Temple which also happens to be one of the Astavinayaka temples in Maharashtra.

About Sarasgad :
Sarasgad Fort is situated near Pali and is a part of the Sudhagad taluka in Raigad district. Sarasgad forms the backdrop of the Pali village and stands adjacent to it. Among the Ashtavinayakas, Shree Ballaleshwar Ganesh Temple at Pali is the only Ganesha temple famous by the name of his devotee and who is dressed up as a Brahmin. This place is nestled between the fort Sarasgad and River Amba. Sarasgad stretches out in the north-south direction, to the east of Pali. From both ends of the fort one can reach the top.

Sarasgad can be identified by its four pinnacles. There are two ways to climb, one near the MSEB office and other near the temple. Climbing the route from MSEB office is relatively easy. However, we decided to take the second route from near the temple. After about spending half hr in the temple premises we moved across onto the main road past the temple.

After about 50mtrs past the temple there's a cemented pathway climbing towards the left of the road. This leads into the village. It wad around 11am that we started our trek and the scorching sun was already getting overhead.After the initial introduction / trek briefing / do's and don'ts we left the cemented pathway and followed a rough path that climbed zig-zig onto the plateau. Outhere we missed our actual route to the right side route, climbed a slope and reached a wide plateau from where we could see all four Sarasgad pinnacles in a distance. The pinnacle on the left is the Sarasgad fort with its two huge bastions and is connected by a small ridge to the rest of the three pinnacles. We climbed further on thru karvy and thorny bushes to reach an open area and took rest under the shades of a tree. From there on we relatively climbed onto a slope on a well defined path and reached a rock patch. Climbing the rock patch with the help of footholds we reached a huge cave. Though the entrance of the cave looked small and the path inside narrow, this cave was quite a long one. Since we did not have time to explore the cave we decided to move ahead. Just ahead of the cave, we could see two huge high bastions (buruz) with a beautiful staircase made of rock cut steps leading to the main darwaza of the fort. The steep staircase was in good condition and had the left bastion fort wall on one side and a huge fall on the other.The steps were about 1-1.5ft and had to be crossed with care to avoid any mishaps. After about approx 35-40 steps we reached the main darwaza of the fort which is in good condition. We climbed further on to reach a water tank (left side).

After quenching our thirst and filling up our bottles we returned back to climb another flight of steps and circum navigate the ballekilla base. There's another huge water tank here. Though full of moss the water here is potable and cool. Moving further on along the fort walls, we passed by a number of big and small caves (thought to be where the soldiers/residents of the fort used to stay) we reached another darwaza (chor darwaza which also leads up from Pali village). Here we took a left turn and climbed upwards (somewhat a steep climb) and after about 15mins reached the ballekilla. Atop Balekilla there's a huge water tank (covered with leaves) next to which there's a Shiv temple. On a slightly upward height there's a tomb of a muslim saint. We reached the Ballekilla around 1.15pm. We had lunch near the temple followed by resting session including singing of marathi patriotic songs honouring Shivaji. The view from the top is excellent. The region on the western side of the fort is a green belt with the river Amba flowing through the town, the Jambulpada village and Unhere hot water spring. On the eastern side of Sarasgad one can faintly see in a distance the forts of Sudhagad, Ghangad, Korigad, Teilbala. Also we could see a faint view of Torna and Rajgad.

We left Ballekilla around 3.15pm and descended to the Pali village through the same ascent route and reached base around 5.15pm. We quickly walked towards the bus stand (1.5kms) and took the 5.30pm bus to Khopoli. Reached Khopoli around 6.45pm and took the 8.08pm train to Karjat and further on a connecting train to CST. As most of the trekkers were from Kalyan-Dombivili-Thane area (they reached home around 9.30pm), It took me a good 2.5hrs from Khopoli to Malad (my destination). During the ascent itself my shoes sole gave away and had a tough time while descending and returning home, hence, could not explore the fort at ease. Maybe on the next visit to Sarasgad...

Note : Ideal trek for beginners, this trek can be coupled with Sudhagad which then requires a night's stay at Pali. Plenty of water on the fort. The caves below Balekilla can accomadate atleast 100 people. Avoid the rock patch and staircase during the monsoons as might get very slippery. There is a hot water spring at a village called Unhere near Pali.

Keep Trekking.......


 
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