-Overview:
Location good enough for 1 days trek.

-Location:
The fort is 42 km to the south west of Pune, about 15–16 km west of Nasrapur, in the Sahyadris range.

Nasrapur is 10 mins drive from Toll on NH4 after a food plaza-Dominoz+CCD+McD.

Drive right at Nasrapur T. If @all u in great speed to catch up the right turn, u'll get another chance to take a U turn in next 2 mins, but if u miss even that, fir to bhagwaan hi mallik.

-How to reach/Route:
From Pune (Katraj) to Gunjavane (Depot) - Private Vehicle, ST is available from Swargate.

Gunjavane would lead to Gunjavane Darwaja leading to BalleKilla (Center) / Chor Darwaja leading to Padmavati Machee (north end) of the fort.

-Stay:
Padmavati Temple & Dharamshala, mostly full on weekends, or if U‘ve tents then probably U may stay @ the fort on a moonlit night under heavy wind & rain, but not recommended!!!

-Points 2 visit on the fort:
1. Padmavati Machee (north end),
2. Sanjeevani Machee (southwest/west end),
3. Suvela Machee (south east),
4. Bale Killa (centre)

-Best time to visit:
Monsoons (Jun-Aug) if u wanna njoy the monsoon trek, but if u wanna explore the fort in & out then would suggest Sept-Oct.

My Story:

There are times in life when u plan every minute detail to make sure that things fall in place the way u actually want it & then either IT CLICKS FOR U OR NOT BUT @times there is this thing....

SERENDIPITY...!

U plan & plan & plan, u try & execute but u land up with something most unexpected!

Which 1 shd thou choose?
1. Trek.
2. Monsoon Trek.
3. Monsoon Night Trek.
4. Monsoon Night via jungle YET less exhausted Trek.

U got it right!!!

The one with highest Adrenaline rush yet not the most exhaustive activity.

We started our day @ dusk: Saturday June 25th 2011.

1630Hrs Kalyani Nagar: Cerebrum Phase II
The Beginning:
We (default count me with Indrajeet J ) reached as on time & have got ample of time to
- Test drive an ATM machine of which 1 was malfunctioned,
- Wander & look around for the chicks in KP.
- Pay a visit to D-Mart, if in case we've missed out anything to carry.
- Watch high class ppl to go out for an evening walk along with their vodafone wala doggie.
- Watch old aged couple still caring for each other.
- Change of shift for the security guards.
- Find unfortunate IT/ BPO ppl in Office premises on Saturday evening.

Oh did I mention...
- We were also trying to find unknown ppl with trekking bags & Vishal.

We were supposed to be a gang of 8 ppl for the trek(of which I know only Indrajeet & Vishal; & Vishal was yet to reach). We almost looked @ every other person with or without bags, we could have managed to identify only 1 gal with similar key features but she ran her scooty to the parking...may b she is on for some other trek ;-)

Vishal-------sms->Indrajeet, "reaching in 5 mins".
Indrajeet---sms->Vishal,"after how many 5 mins?".
(laaaambi khamooshi................)

I was also checking out if any "Punto" is passing by, but today was the day when I've almost every single car in INDIA other than * :-)

1700Hrs
Here came Vishal Along with.."Manpreet", a lady with studious looks & heavy glass frame, shakkal se mere se bhi jyada serious lag rhi thi maám, but ph pe busy thi (may b bfrnd), trek pe jane se pehle, trek ka itinerary briefing.

Vishal: "Hey even Amrita has to be here, she called me by 4:30p that she reached".

Indrajeet: "we've seen only 1 gal with a trekking bag but she came after us by 4:40 pm, not sure where she is".

Then came Anurag & Megha, followed by Amrita (the same gal with identifying key features: trekking bag). So we are 1 short still. We picked up Rucha from a nearby spot: Adlabs(KP) on our way out. Lekin jitte der hum log adlabs k bahar ruke utte mein to ek documentary movie with popcorn khatam ho sakta tha.

We took the Katraj-Swargate-Camp-KP, so that Vishal can refuel the Punto. On the petrol-pump we could see Rucha & Amrita checking out the outlets, hmmm lemme guess the munching stuffs!!!

1820Hrs Katraj
Halt for a photo shoot..
Amrita,
Anuraag,
Manpreet,
Megha,
Rucha,
Vishal,
Indrajeet &
By default me

The Journey:
We were terribly late, approx an Hr behind the estimated time, or am I the only 1 who is checking out time. While reaching Katraj we already had a taste of the ‘Palki in Pune’.

We were planning to leave Pune by 1740Hrs & reach the base stn to Rajgad(Gunjavane) by 1820Hrs so as to make a comfortable trek to Rajgad somewhat in partial daylight (dusk on mountains are late).

That would have helped us buying enough time to gather some dry wood for preparing the meal.

1840Hrs crossed NH4 Toll
We got company!!! Rucha was dying of hunger!
Halted on food plaza (for munching appetizer): ccd+dominoz+mcd

Confirmed the route ahead with Vishal, ‘Nasrapur se right, proper right turn hai!

But as they say,’too many cooks spoil the broth’, address humesha driver ko pooch k samajhna chahiye.

As soon as I’ve seen Nasrapur milestone, asked Jeet to slow down (advisable: if both driver & navigator r double battery )..our probably right turn has to be nearby…we were speed’g  @80 & surpassed a T…& Jeet’s reaction was..’nhin nhin…Vishal ne kaha tha wo proper Right turn hai’..

Within a minute we got a call if we’ve taken the right turn, the right one!

Bcoz vishal was behind us & they were on right track..! Then where were we heading to???

When on any National Highway neither can u slow down all of a sudden nor do u have a quick u turn. We kept driving for another couple of minutes, this time slow enough to identify any cut to take a U-turn [if u r on the same route, make sure to slow down in case u’ve missed out the Nasrapur turn to identify the cut, else, u probably might reach Banglore J].

We took the turn to find Vishal & Manpreet furious @ us but as they say,’heyeee Sanorita, aise vadde vadde deshoon vich aisi chote mote mod nazar nhin aande hain'

Now Jeet decided to follow Vishal as a lamb but not sure wht was wrong in the Punto, the car itself started behaving weirdly…kehte hai bahut saloon pehle aise hi kisi viraan se gaon mein koi bhoot rehta tha..aur aaj bhi use isi gaon mein tehlte aur mandrate huye dekha ja sakta hai………….

We were right behind the Punto holding its pony tail. On the verge of the village yet another ‘right turn’ was waiting to add a drama to our adventurous journey. It was quite a steep & neither Jeet nor any1 in the car could guess the steep or the angle of the turn. Jeet somehow managed to get hold of the car & drag it back on the road after he accidently lost the control.

But eventually we have again managed to lose the pony tail of the Punto.

We reached a small T again & could see tail lights of another car but that was too far ahead to reach in such a short span, heading another ‘Right’. Neither Airtel (only available in Leh) nor Idea-3G (unfortunately seems we had only 2G) was providing us an amicable network.

We had a decent amount of petrol in the vehicle but it surely hadn’t been a wise idea to explore the entire village instead of reaching the base location for the trek now.

ek kali ghani raat, ek sunsaan sadak, no network coverage, biyanbaan gaon, na koi aadmi na aadam jaat……………Jai Bajrangbali..tod dushman ki nali……aaila.!!

desi phatphati ki awaz with headlamp on it, there is nthg more u can just ask for now.

Thank goddness:
1.      @least I (among 4 of us) could express in tuti-fhuti marathi.
2.      The guy on bike wasn’t from MNS.
3.      Above all, there r still sm part of the country whr lang is not a bar, all u need is an Indian heart.

All though he was going in opposite direction but not only he explained us the route but also escorted us to make sure that we don’t fall prey to a wrong path.

Soon we caught the furious Punto, ab to mujhe un bhootoon se bhi itna darr nhin lag rha tha jitna main Punto k darwaje ke khulne se darr rha tha.

It was hardly 5-10 mins more to the Gunjavane village, the base stn foor the trek, it was 2045Hrs now & I m still afraid of what waiting for us in that Punto!

The Trek: Night Trek in Monsoon.
Though this is the most happening part of the day, I probably won’t be able to justify the span in mere words, quite a speechless experience.

All my frnds who know about trekking/ jungle trek can understand what it could be to trek & climb a mountain via jungle without light (read as natural), with monsoon at its best!

The feel when u turn ur torch off & turn around to find urself on top of a hill surrounded by jungle from where the lights in the huts in distant villages are visible is utterly speechless.

Away from the regular traffic noise the only sound u may hear is the frog/ cricket or bats or the heavy wind breezing around.

Away from the city lights or light flooded malls, the only source of light is the moon (if its star light full moon nite) or the jugnus.

Nothing connects u (airtel/ vodafone/ idea) but ur direct voice & faith in the team.

Where all the high tech gadgets fail, ppl completely unaware of technologies keep living in these small villages since their ancestors & live quite a happy live without any deadlines to meet.

2300Hrs
We trekked, we crawled thru’ the mud, we climbed the rail’g. We did it all to reach the Chor Darwaja to Rajgad.

Both Dharamshala & Padmavati Temple were full with other ppl but luckily we managed to get some space for 8 of us! We had to clean the place a bit & the newspapers came in handy.

We were quite late to gather wood to prepare the meal, thank god we still got ready to eat options & just have to depend on burgers/ hotdogs/ canned foods.

Best way is to carry fruits with u or carry sm1 with apples (Amrita) with u, bcoz an apple a day keeps a doctor away!

One of the other teams reached b4 us already prepared khichadi aur luckily hum log pahunch gye warna khana waste ho jata

After the peth puja it was time for kaam duja, I aint talk’g abt sleep’g I know all of us were tired but had enough energy left to sing songs …

Saath ekkam saath…
Saath duni chouda…
Saath tiya ekkiss…
Saath chouge aai yai ya….

& play cards… but 2day we all discovered that the best part of any card game is:
1.      To distribute cards.
2.      To watch cards getting distributed.
3.      To shuffle cards mixing 2-3 decks & distributing.
4.      To play as a team with single set of cards.
5.      To reshuffle & re-distribute cards.

But it does wonder if u can get a physio along with u in the team, as every now & then u can get a cramp, there is a very simple yogic mudra which can get rid of any sort of cramp, unless u get a cramp while do’g that mudra itself.

It was 0230 Hrs when we learned another lesson, after u r completely charged up with all those stuffs the only thing left has to be: count 1..2..3 & go to bed, just don’t worry about rest 5

Ya before I forget, another key thing, do carry as many sleeping bags as possible, u never know with whom u r travelling & if u have a pillow u surely might not actually use it.

I could have managed to snore for hardly an hr or 40 mins when we (I, Indrajeet, Manpreet started feeling the heat). Rucha couldn’t sleep any longer (due multiple sleeping bags, probably confused which 1 to actually get into) & we weren’t melodious enough to sing a bed time for her!

Or were it those Ghost stories which kept the ppl in Punto alive & Rucha horrified, @least now we no why was the Punto behaving weirdly.

0800Hrs
Every trek dawn begins with tea & pohe, I aint talk’g abt THE ‘Kanda Pohe’, but ours was unusua, we got a candle, water drenched matchstick, lighter available J & a fruit cake from Monginis, it was Megha’s bday nxt day but we planned to celebrate 2gether.

Subah subah cake khane ka maja alag hi hai aur Jeet k saath to aur jyada, q ki wo subah subah meetha nhin khata hai & by default wo khaU mere paas aa jata hai

Soon we geared up to leave the fort while it continued to rain …
On our way down we had
- a photo shoot &
- world famous kekda bhajji
- pohe
- tea
- bread
- chewda
- apple …

baaki ka khau saman bag mein sahi salamat hai!

By 1000Hrs we were back to Gunjavane,
While driving back to Pune Amrita & Rucha joined us, they wanted to listen to Kishor da, RD da & rockOn or may b Anuragh & Megha were tired to listen those old aged songs.

We planned to trek down by 0600Hrs so that we can leave Gunjavane by 0800 Hrs & reach Pune by 1000Hrs in order to avoid Palki & this is where we actually were.

We had a lunch together; need not specify my choice of menu!

Finally 1630Hrs entered Pune & discovered a shortcut beating the crowded swargate directly to KP. But all of sudden our RJ cum Navigator got so charged up that she almost made the car the turn with even holding the steering wheel, now I know why is an apple a day so necessary!

ACP Praduman(shaking his fingers):
-Daya pata lagaO, ki aakhir ye AbhiJeet hai kaun...!
-Fredrics: yeh Aman aur Vishal ka chakkar kya hai...?
to be contd....

Some Key points for a night trek:
  1. Gud trekking shoes (please avoid woodland in shayadris spl during monsoon, as most of these forts have rocky patches).
  2. Torch with good pair of extra betteries.
  3. Try to stay together as much as possible.
  4. Have sm1 in grp who knows the trail or path (trust him/ her).
  5. Too many cooks do spoil the broth, avoid any arguments, ur voice might awaken the Kracken
  6. Do wear full sleeves & full pants, avoid sandals & have raincoat.
  7. Ample of drinking water & munching stuffs (preferably glucose content/ chocolates), plz avoid throwing the wrappers here n there in jungle.
  8. Either carry fruits with u or carry sm1 with apples with u, bcoz an apple a day keeps a doctor away
  9. Do carry as many sleeping bags as possible, u never know with whom u r travelling & if u have a pillow u surely might not actually use it
  10. Do carry snacks: chewda packets, alternatives for pillow.
  11. In case u r planing a monsoon night trek have some kerosene/ or wood with urselves handy.