Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lohgadh & Visapur Trek

The month of August ended for us with we boarding a train to Lonavala. Our destination was Bhaja Village.

Gang: Vidhu, Rohan, Me, Rafeeque, Arpit, Sharat, Shri, Karthik, Gagan
Normally my train journeys are all about reading books and sleeping. But this train journey I am going to remember for long long time. Somehow we decided to sing (as badly as possible, not that we had to try hard) 90's hindi songs, mostly sung by Kumar Sanu or featuring Mamta Kulkarni. I am sure we must have gotten into nerves of many people, but to our surprise no body complained. A all guys group has its on advantage.

We got down at Lonavala next morning. It was time for breakfast. After feasting on lots of Misal Pav, Bada Pav and Parle- G biscuits, we boarded a local train to Malavli. Once we reached there, we took an auto to Bhaja village.

The moment we reached Bhaja, we could see a beautiful waterfall, where the village women were busy washing clothes and some tourists were busy enjoying it.
The Waterfall
The fall was very tempting and inviting, but our first priority was to find a place where we can dump all our stuffs and also spend the night once we were done with day's activities.

The Sarpanch of the village readily agreed to rent 2 rooms of his home for us. Soon we dumped all our bags at his home and headed straight for the waterfall. We spent around an hour in the waterfall. The ice cold water drained all the tiredness out of our body.
Fun @ the Waterfall
After sometime we started our trek to Lohgadh fort. The fort is around 6-7 km from Bhaja Village. You can even travel by vehicle to the base of the fort.  However walking is what we always opt for. It was a very simple and easy trek but the picturesque scenery, the cool mountain breeze, the lush green grass makes the trek very enjoyable.
Edited Pic

One of the waterfalls on the way to Lohagad

The Scenic Beauty

These sells refreshments: Nimbu Pani, Cucumber, Chips and many more
At the base of the camp lies a small town Lohagadwadi. From here approximately 500 steps lead you to the fort. A mighty gate leads you inside.
One of the Entrance to Lohagad Fort
The fort provides a good sight of places around. But by the time we reached there, it had started to drizzle and it became quite misty. The visibility had reduced drastically. Still we kept on going and ended up reaching a place which looked like the end of the world (or the fort). We spent some time there, clicked few pics, recharged ourselves with Parle-G biscuits.
@ the End of the World
It was getting dark and after some time we decided, its time for us to start our trek back to Bhaja village. As we were returning, the fog cleared for some time and allowed us a view that left us mesmerized. This particular view took all the tiredness away and made our trek worthy.



The rain has made the road back to village very slippery, and it was little tougher coming back than it was going up.

The Sarpanch has agreed to arrange for our dinner at his place. It consisted of Alu tamater ki rusbhari subji, Chapati, Kandhe ki chutney, Daal and Rice. One of the yummiest food I have ever had during all our trekking experience.And after a filling dinner and some leg pulling we decided it was time to sleep.



Next morning we got up early, went to the same waterfall for a quick bath and started our trek to Bhaja caves and Visapur fort. Bhaja caves are believed to be one of the oldest Buddhist monastery and is hardly 30 mins climb on a properly laid out steps.
Steps leading to Bhaja Caves

Bhaja Caves
After spending some time at the caves, we asked people for directions to Visapur fort. There are many routes you can take to reach there, somehow we ended up choosing on of the toughest and least followed one.

The previous night rain has made the path very slippery and risky. To make things worse we soon lost the trail also. After some time we realized we can not go back and the only option left for us was to keep going up towards the caves.

The climb started with we passing through some thorny bushes. Soon we were climbing up a incline. The only thing that kept us going was breathtaking beauty all around us. The rain kept playing with hide and seek with us. The weather was awesome and helped us keep going. And the best part was when we crossed a waterfall where it was beginning to take the form of one.

The Climb towards the Fort

Taking a break and Posing for the camera

Crossing a Waterfall at its nasent form
But we were lost again. Soon we were walking through dense bushes again without any sense of direction. Luckily we came across some huts and a small 10 yr kid came out and helped us with the directions to the fort. He told us there are again two way to reach the fort and NOT to take one of them. We being us, decided to take the forbidden path.

For the next 15-20 mins, it was a pleasant walk.  Then suddenly we were walking through a dense patch of trees just as tall as us. It felt really strange walking through them.






Once we were out of this and after walking for another 10-15 mins, we realized we were almost at the base of the fort. And then we realized why the kid has asked not to take this route. There was no way forward, but almost a vertical climb. We had met 2 trekkers few minutes back and saw them climb up. This gave us the confidence that we can also do this. But mind you it was risky, one mistake and we would have fallen 100s of feet below into the dense forest. Once we were done with the climb, it took another 10 minutes for us to be inside the fort.

Words can not describe the feeling that we felt once we were safely inside. Probably this video will.

video

Once we reached the top, we realized how huge the fort was. We rested there for some time and allowed our senses to get soaked in the beautiful view that the fort provided.




 We had lost lot of time climbing up, so we were not in a position to spend much time there and we needed to come back to Bhaja Village as quickly as possible. Luckily we met few  local there who agreed to act as guide for our trek back to the village.  The climb down was along a water stream. It was slippery, risky but fun.

We reached Bhaja village just in time, after a quick bath in the waterfall we left for Lonavala to catch our train back to Hyderabad.

----------------------------------------
PS: I have been warned by my friends not to use the word "unplanned" in this blog. But the only thing I knew about this trip was "I am going to Lonavala over a weekend"