Tung! When I first got a view of this magnificient hill from across Lohgad, It was quite a dreadful sight and never thought that I would ever set my foot on Tung.
Not much is known about the history/background of this fort. It was probably used as a watchtower to gaurd the land overlooking the Pawna river. It is also called Kathingad due to its long rocky climb and severe exposed patches.
When Bhramanti our trekking group declared the Tung Trek on 14th Mar, 04, believe me, I was in 2 minds whether to go for it or no. Nevertheless, setting all fears aside, I decided to go for it.
We were six of us (Myself, Ruzbeh, Kiran, Solomon, Anil & Gopal). Rajan could not make it due to last minute problems. As planned we departed by the 6am Pune S.T. bus to Lonavala from the S.T. Depot at Sukurwadi, Borivli (E). Anil & Gopal were to join us in Lonavala. Our bus was supposed to take us thru the expressway, however it went to Panvel to fill petrol and then onto expressway. Thus delaying our plans to reach lonavala early.
We were dropped of on the expressway near lonavala, from were we hiked to the old Mumbai-Pune road, took a rick and hurried to Lonavala bus depot to catch the 9:15am Ambavane S.T. bus. Enroute, we passed, INS Shivaji - Indian Navy's engineering training center, Lonavala Air-Force Stn, Lion's Point & Shivling Point. After an hours journey we reach Ghusalkhamb village. At Ghusalkhamb we have to take a road leading to Tungwadi, the base village of Tung. It is a tiresome walk of about 8kms but quite a beautiful route. After having walked for about 2kms we got a lift from a passing truck who dropped us off at a junction (at this junction one has to go straight for Tung and left for a village near the Pawna river). We again hiked for about 3kms and reached the beginning of the ridge that leads to the fort. After seeing the fort from a distance itself I began to wonder whether we will be to reach the top cause there were two points (one the watchtower and second a 100deg vertical patch after the watchtower) which needed to be negotiated to finally reach the fort. We climbed the ridge and crossed some scree patches and reached below the watchtower. Now here was the real challenge. This was purely a rock-climbing scenario and none of us were trained to do so. Even if we climbed the rock patch it would be difficult to return without proper equipment. And what about the big rock patch after the watchtower. We were all dejected and decided to abandon the trek. Each one of us felt bad that this would be termed as an unaccomplished trek. A real 'Kathingad'.
So we took a U-turn, reached the road, took a left and pushed of to Tungwadi. We decided that we would take rest for sometime, take the boat and cross over to Pawna Nagar and then climb Tikona Fort, ie. If we have the time otherwise return to Bombay.
Whilst going to the village, we were actually traversing the fort. The fort is quite rocky and devoid of any vegetation. To our extreme luck, Ruzbeh located some steps somewhere in the middle of the fort & Voila! We were all thrilled to know that there is still hope to conquer Tung Fort.
Soon, we reached the village & met a villager called Gomti. He provided us with good drinking water (brought from Pawna River). He told us that we took the wrong climb and that was not the correct way to reach the fort. He then showed us the right way. Just before we enter the village, there is a small clearing in the woods. After entering this path we reach a small Maruti temple (the temple looks recent, however the idol is ancient) This is a nice place to rest before one starts the trek. At about 1215pm we started climbing. It was quite an exhaustive climb and to add to our woes the afternoon heat was breaking our spirits. Gopal was in bad shape and did not look good whilst climbing. However, he gathered courage and climbed on till we all reached the first gate of the fort. Fortifications at the entrance are quite good and soon we reach another gate which is supposed to be the actual entrance. On the opposite side there is a statue of Maruti carved on the wall. We climb a few steps and then reach on top of the fort. We then take a right and proceed towards the Ganesh & Tuljai Temple. The Temple is in good shape. Adjacent to the temple there is huge water tank but water is not potable. There are also a few remains opposite the Ganesh temple. We go behind the temple and start climbing towards the ballekilla (topmost point on the fort) After a climb of around 50mtrs we reach the base of the ballekilla. We then start climbing by circumventing the ballekilla and within 25min we reach the top. We finally summitted Tung at 1:17pm. The top is small with a temple dedicated to Goddess Tungai. The temple is in a bad shape without a roof. There is also a flagpole on top with a red flag on top. Seems like a Shiv Sena Flag.
The view from the top is extremely beautiful. Towards the east, one can spot Tikona across Pawna River, On the west side one can see Morvi & Devgad, Towards the north one can spot the twin forts of Lohgad & Visapur, BhatRishi hill &Pawna Dam and to the south a long unnamed valley with 5-6 hills.he waters of the Pavna river adorning the green fertile region, lots of beautiful bungalows and surrounds Tung on 3 sides.
After a session of photography we descend the Ballekilla and enroute we had lunch. After lunch we descend the fort and proceed to Tungwadi keeping the fort on the right. Just near the village there is a small ancient temple dedicated to Lord Bhairavnath. Also enroute we can see a large cave in the middle of tung hill at a height of about 150ft from the base. There is a route to reach the cave. However we decided not to go as we had to catch the boat before 4pm. As usual there is always something left behind to be explored.
We reached Tungwadi by about 2:45pm. We then proceeded to Kevre Village (about 30mins from Tungwadi). We passed by a Shivling temple situated in the village, then onto the fields. Whilst crossing the fields we come across a small temple dedicated to one Anjani Devi a girl who lived at this village between (1652-1672) and then committed Sati. This temple was built to glorify the Sati act. We then descend thru a small rocky patch and reach a small grassy path leading to the shore. We reached the shore at around 3:30pm and got to know that the launch might not turn up that day. We then negotiated with a local fisherman who agreed to take us across to Thakursai village.
Let me tell you about the boat we travelled - It was not a proper wooden boat but made of bamboo sheets, with thick bamboo strips holding the wood. The boat was kind of elastic with no shape and balance. We had to adjust our seating so that there was proper balance. The boat was steered by the boat owner and 5 oarsmen. By the time we reached the other side (about 20mins) there was quite a bit of water seeping inside the boat. Quite an adventurous-cum-dangerous journey. But we all enjoyed it thoroughly
.worth the money!
From Thakursai Village, Tikona Fort is quite close, but due to time constraints we could not go there. Therefore, we decided to head back home. From Thakursai village we reached the main road. Unable to get a ride, we hiked down right up to Pawna Nagar (previously known as Kale Colony). Enroute we passed Bramloni Village, Pawna Dam (a total of 7kms). We then took a S.T. Bus to Kamshet and reached there around 6:45pm.
Taking the 7pm local from Kamshet we reached Lonavala by 7:20pm. Being a Sunday, we could get any train / bus reservations from Lonavala, so we opted for share-a-sumo and reached Bombay by 10pm and finally got home by 11pm.
Thus we all completed the Tung Trek!