“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves“. These lines are apt for every ruler who had captured this mammoth fort which spreads in all directions. Shivaji the great ruled Rajgad for more than 25 years during the Mughal era in India. No wonder that the historians attached the epithet “great” after his name which portrayed his strong will and determination to overcome the mighty enemy.
To witness the grandeur and explore the fort, one needs to understand its structure. If you haven’t been to Rajgad before then make sure to read about it here.
The trek was organized by Maharastra Desha where around 30 folks from Pune and Mumbai registered for the event. We began from Pune at around midnight in tempo traveler. After reaching the base camp, we started to ascend at 3 am. It was a dark moonless night, so we relied on our torches to illumine the way for us. The initial patch felt cool nonetheless, it was difficult to walk on. (On our return, we saw it was sand !)
The journey had just begun so all were fired up to keep our pace high, still, some of us lagged behind to which one of the volunteers warned us to keep moving together as it was a jungle. No sooner had he spoken – this board which indicated about the species of snakes found here was before our eyes. It added excitement in the air but also helped us to stay vigilant. Though, I really wished to see a real one sometime 🙂
After about an hour or more, the terrain had changed and we walked on the hard steps for some time. They said these steps were built in Shivaji’s period i.e the 17th century.
The starry night was a treat to the eyes and the shutterbug in me couldn’t resist the temptation to capture it. Looking at the tents, it felt as if we would be served breakfast here, shouldn’t there be some reward for climbing up incessantly for 2.5 hours(ignoring a few/many short breaks). And then I sat to exhibit the achievement of making it here so comfortably; volunteers asked us all to follow them. What? There was more to this? We obeyed their command in the anticipation of breakfast!
We now walked on a narrow strip with rocks on one end and moat on the other.
Balekilla is the highest point of the fort, everything was visible from here and by that I mean, not just the entire Rajgad but the surrounding forts as well – Purandar, Sinhagad, Torna. The altitude of this place is about 4500 ft and we had managed to reach here just in time for the Sunrise :). The magnificent rise of the sun from the horizon between the mountains spellbound us.
A moment later, the organizers gathered at one edge of the place. They stood with their chin up facing the sun and sung an Ode to “Great” man. All of us also stood in silence until they had finished. What an amazing place to glorify the Legendary king of the Maratha empire. This was something I hadn’t seen earlier.
There was more in the store for us at Balekilla . Our great ancestors met us here, though not very politely. They expected us to feed them, unfortunately, when we couldn’t they resorted to stealing. It was entertaining to watch their antics.
Like all the treks which conclude once the peak has been reached, we thought this one was over too so I and my friend got busy clicking around. The others in our group moved down. It was too late when we realized that we were the only ones left so started moving back quickly.
The descend with the railings was going to be tricky – maybe because as the sun had risen, we could now see how low we could fall in case of a mishap.
Fortunately, the way lead us towards the Suvela Machi where we caught up with the gang. The trees here much denser and greener as if we had entered the Jurassic Park.
Suvela Machi is a long strip of fortified walls. The first thing we came across was a bastion(not the restaurant which Disha Patani visits) but a real one. This is called Chilkhati Buruj – an ideal place to spot the incoming enemy from all directions. Another Darwaza beside the steps of the bastion leads to double fortified walls. As we walked further away the ground elevation became higher.
The fortified walls are separated by a trench which was used to store water.
Isn’t it amazing to see the interesting idea of the architects to ensure the walls to be made from the stones in between the two ends which will further help to form a trench. The ditch formed will act as a water reservoir. It was killing two birds with one stone albeit here, they used many stones.
On the return, I saw an opening in the walls. They call this Nedh – unlike all the buildings, this isn’t man made and it was carved due to erosion caused due to rains.
More than 6 hours in the trek, we walked our way to the Padmavati Machi. The flat surface with several rooms like structures – for ammunition and residential places for people who would have lived here. We were glad to meet primates here and I happily offered a packet of biscuits to them much to the dislike of others who were hungry themselves. Whether I offered them because of my love for animals or because I had visited Hanuman Temple is something I will leave on readers discretion.
Some of the words have such a deep impact that they can revive the spirits like “Salary is credited“, “Office will remain closed tomorrow“. One such set of words now includes the phrase “Breakfast is served“! These magical words were spoken by the organizers which sent a wave of hope amongst of us who were starved. In this excitement, my friend dropped my new One plus 6 and it broke the screen :(. Unlike others who were happy with the announcement, I had mixed emotions. Outside the Padmavati temple, we had delicious Poha which was prepared by a local. This gave us the energy to look around the place and for me, to be remorseful of the incident.
Later, we had an ice breaker session where we spoke about our experience of the trek. The descend was smooth; we reached the base in about an hour where we had lunch before moving back to the city.
Some of the points you need to keep in mind
a. You need to carry min 3 liters of water along with Glucon D/Electral to give you energy. You may not find vendors until afternoon.
b. The Entire fort cannot be covered in a day (for example we didn’t cover Sanjeevni Machi). An overnight stay will make things possible.
c. There are multiple ways to reach the fort – its easy to get lost so you will need a guide.
A word of thanks to the folks who offered me Banana chips 🙂 and Congrats to Maharastra Desha team for their successful completion of one more event.
Let me know how you found this in the comments. I will be posting more pictures, follow me on Instagram – gaurav.w_