Thursday, January 30, 2020

My Memoirs of Masale Bhaat

When I was a kid, I used to eagerly wait for marriage invitations to my grandmother so that I too could attend the ceremonies with her - the major draw being the delicious food served on such occasions. At that age, I used to tag her everywhere that she went, be it some kitty party of hers (they used to call it bhishi..remember anyone?)  or any other social function.

Well, coming back to the main point, I used to love eating at these Maharashtrian weddings in the lates 80s and 90s when food was still served in a pangat* and not as a buffet. The feast used to be a truly authentic local Maharashtrian taat*. In our Indian culture, food is not just a means to satisfy one's hunger, it is a culinary science to nurture ones' body and a artistic feast for our senses as well. Take a look at the taat below to understand what I mean.

First to be served on the taat was a piece of lemon, salt, chutney, pickle and koshimbir (salad/raita) on the left side. This was followed by some fried items like papads, and batata bhajis.  Paatal bhaaji (gravy vegetable), sukhi bhaji (dry vegetable, usually boiled potato), usal, tomato saar or amti (dal) would be served on the right. A delicious combination of varan, bhaat and sajuk tup would be served in the centre to be eaten first. This was followed by other main courses like puris or polis (roti), masale bhaat , taak or mattha (buttermilk) served one after the other, ending of course with desserts like jilebi or shrikhand. This used to be the usual menu in those days and utterly lip-smacking it used to be!

*Pangat - A row of people sitting down for a meal
*Taat - Plate.

Credits: This Thali pic is from Hotel Shreyas in Pune for a visual representation of my description above




Masale bhaat is a must in all the Maharashtrian traditional wedding or festive feasts.  It is a fragrantly spiced rice complete with vegetables like ivy gourd, peas, or mixed vegetables and can be had as a one-pot dish as well. Served with raita, papad, or tomato saar, it truly stands out as a festive meal. 

I was sorely missing the authentic masale bhaat for quite some time now. All the recipes that I tried to google online were close but never the one that I was looking for. However, I turned lucky soon after I moved to Pune. A few weeks ago, I visited my college friend, Mugdha, for a lovely lunch at her place and was quite wowed by the masale bhaat she had prepared. Its perfect texture, fragrance and spices all transported me to my good old childhood memories :)

Here is the recipe for Tondliche Masale Bhaat (Bramhani recipe - No-onion, No-garlic version):


Tondli ghatlela Masale Bhaat

Recipe for 2-3 people:

Ambe Mohar rice (or any other short grained rice. I used Indrayani) - soaked for 30 minutes - 1 cup
Tondli (ivy gourd) - thinly sliced, 200 gms
Goda masala (similar to garam masala) - 1.5 tsps

For the phodni/tempering
Oil - 1.5 to 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves
Asafoetida/Hing - a pinch
Haldi - 1 tsp
Chilli powder - 1 tsp or more as per your taste
Ginger - grated or finely chopped - 1 inch

Jaggery - to taste (can skip as well)
Salt - to taste
Water - 2-2.5 cups
Grated coconut & Chopped Coriander leaves - for garnish
Ghee - for serving

Method:

Start with tempering the oil with mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves in a pressure cooker or a heavy-bottomed pan. Do not skimp on the oil here in this step as it can make or break the dish. To this tempering add the haldi, sliced ivy gourd, ginger, chilli powder and fry it for a couple of minutes. Next, add the soaked rice and mix it well in the oil. Make sure the oil coats the rice grains well.

To this add water, goda masala, jaggery, and salt to taste. Cover the vessel and allow the rice to cook well. If pressure cooking, then give around 4-5 whistles to make sure the ivy gourd is cooked well.

Garnish with coriander leaves, grated coconut and serve it with home-made ghee and lots of love. Enjoy the simple deliciousness!










Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Fort 3: A half-trek to Purandar

Name: Purandar
Height: 4472 feet / 1387 metres above sea level
Trek Category: Easy trek
Requirements:  Identity cards which are checked by the Army at the Gate
Base Village(s): Narayanpur 
Distance from Pune: 50 kms Southeast of Pune
Time to trek from the machi (lower fort): hour approximately
Where to stay: Staying overnight on the fort is not allowed but one can stay in Narayanpur or Saswad
Where to eat: Carry your own food & water. There is a army canteen near the parking lot on the machi which serves some snacks and drinks
Best time to visit: Rainy and winter season
Toilets: are available near the parking lot on the fort







As seen from Balekilla

Ruins

History:

This place is quite near Pune and so one fine Sunday, we decided to explore Purandar. I read a bit about its history so as not to be totally ignorant of the place we were visiting.

Purandar is an ancient fort and has a lot of history attributed to it. Heard of the Treaty of Purandar in the recent blockbuster - Tanaji, The Unsung Warrior? The treaty where Shivaji surrendered 23 forts including Purandar, to Mirza Raje Jaisingh in 1665 to avoid heavy losses to his men and empire. Yeah, this is the same fort at which the treaty was signed and this is the very fort as well where Chatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj and Sawai Madhavrao Peshwa were born.


This fort dates back to the 11th century of the Yadava Dynasty and is really quiet ancient. The fort has changed many hands after the Yadavas. It was taken over by the Persians, then some Sultanates and eventually towards the end of the 16th century, the fort was under the control of Malojirao Bhosale, a Maratha warrior under the Ahmadnagar Sultanate, who was none other than the grandfather of Shivaji Maharaj. Purandar is also one of the few forts which Shivaji gained control over in his early days of establishing the Maratha Empire.

Location:

Take the Pune-Bangalore Highway: Pune --> Kapurhol/Saswad-->Narayanpur --> 6.5 kms on tar road --> Fort entrance

Buses ply between Pune to Kapurhol and then one needs to catch another bus to Narayanpur

Tip: Go via Kapurhol-Bhor Road Only otherwise its easy to get lost.

Entry Requirements & Restrictions:


This fort is under the Indian Army and is being used for National Cadet Corps (NCC) for training purposes . It is open for tourists only between 9 am to 5 pm and overnight stay is strictly not allowed in the fort premises. IDs are a must to gain entry into the fort. Only after a thorough security checks and ID validations, were we allowed to step inside the gates.

The fort walls


Vajragad and the Parking lot on Purandar


We drove up all the way on a motorable tar road to the parking lot which is situated on the lower part of the fort (machi). Here one can park the vehicle and follow the trekking trail to the topmost point of the fort. I could not click pictures of the statue of Murarbaji Deshpande, and the Church near the entrance gate as we drove along the way.  Also the army has put up a lot many notices to not click pictures due to security reasons. However, I could take pictures on the route uphill!

Many places are out of reach for the tourists as well due to security reasons. The last I read is that Vajragad, which earlier could be accessed from Purandar, is now closed to the public.

The Trek:


The fort can be divided into two halves - the lower half  is the Machi and the upper half is the Balekilla. We visited the monuments of Shivaji Maharaj and Sambhaji Maharaj a little straight ahead of the parking lot on the machi and paid our respects to these stalwarts. The machi also houses a church and a statue of Murarbaji Deshpande, the Maratha warrior who gave up his life fighting against the Mughals on this fort. Purandareshwar temple is just behind the entry point of the trail uphill.

The Balekilla has the Kedareshwar temple at its highest point. It is an ancient Shiva temple with a Nandi sitting across it. The place is inundated with monkeys so be careful with your mobiles and footwear. They can disappear any second. The fort is in ruins and nothing much is left except the fort walls at places and bastions.


The Maha Darwaza

It is a very simple trek even for the beginners, especially if we start from the parking lot. Since the trek does not entail starting from the base, I call it a 'half-trek'. The trail starts right opposite the parking lot and takes less than an hour to reach the top. It is a straightforward path which takes us through the Mahadarwaza offering panaromic views of the twin fort, Vajragad, and the valley below.

The trek route with Vajragad in the background

Kedareshwar temple on the top


Kedareshwar temple



A water tank on the way to the Kedareshwar temple

Aptly said!

The fort is in ruins today; yet these ruins remind us of the glorious past it witnessed in its heydays. Even today, by being a training centre for the NCC, the fort is still in active service of our nation and definitely warrants a visit.


Nearby attractions: 

1) Prati Balaji Temple, a replica of the Tirumala Venkateshwara Temple, is located in Narayanpur and is believed to be constructed during the Yadava era.
2) Khandoba temple of Jejuri (25 kms from the Narayanpur).






Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Trek 3 - Naneghat: The Satvahana Toll Route of Ancient India

Name: Naneghat & Nanacha Angtha
Height: 2461 feet/750 metres above sea level
Trek Category: Easy-Medium trek
Equipment required:  None but wear appropriate trekking shoes for this trek
Base Village(s): Vaishakhare for the trek. The pass is also accessible from Ghatghar via a road
Distance from Pune: 120 kms from Pune
Distance from Kalyan to Vaishakhare: 60 kms
Time to trek uphill: 2-3 hours approximately
Where to stay: Staying overnight is possible in the cave near the pass
Where to eat: Carry your own food & water. Can request food (pithala-bhaakri, pohe etc.) from the dhaba on the plateau above the pass
Best time to visit: During monsoons and in winter months



Naneghat & Nanacha Angtha



What is Naneghat?

Naneghat (Nane = coins; Ghat = Mountain Pass) is a scenic mountain pass situated in the Western ghats, that connects the Konkan region to the Deccan plateau via Junnar. Here nanis were collected as toll in a carved stone vessel, somewhere around 200 BCE to 190 CE, to gain entry into the Satvahana kingdom - The first record of any ancient toll booth anywhere in the world!

The stone vessel still stands intact today at the mouth of the ghat overlooking a small hamlet on the plateau. There is a man-made cave as well on the other side of the pass with Bramhi inscriptions in there. Dotted with numerous other smaller caves and water tanks, the pass was not only a gateway to the other side but also offered refuge to the weary travellers who crossed over from Konkan to Pratishthan (ancient name for Junnar)

Nanacha Angtha (Angtha=Thumb) is the apt name of the pinnacle seen next to the ghat. As vertical and steep it looks from below, it is quite a manageable stretch uphill from Naneghat. It takes only about 10 minutes to climb to the top of the pinnacle from the pass.

The top of the pinnacle is so windy that it is difficult to stand there lest you tumble down in the valley below. Many visitors give it a miss but do trek up to there to complete the experience and get ready to be blown away (both literally and figuratively!).





Who built it?

As per the inscriptions in the cave, it is believed that Queen Naganika from the Satvahana Dynasty commissioned the excavation of the pass and the building of the cave after the death of her husband, King Satakarni. The inscriptions talk about the lives of the royal couple and their son who succeeded the throne.

The inscriptions also throw light on a lot of practises which highlight the history of the period like the sacrifices and various rituals performed by the kings of the period. The mention of Vedic Gods in sync with Hindu Gods like Vasudeva and Balram indicate the transition to the practice of Vaishnava Hinduism in the Satvahana dynasty. The numeric inscriptions in there are also the world's oldest known numeric symbols known to man.

The history of the pass


How to Reach Naneghat from Mumbai/Kalyan (Popular Trek Route)

Mumbai--> Kalyan-->Murbad--> Tokawade--> Vaishakhare (base village)-->Naneghat Trek Starting Point

After reaching Kalyan, one can take the ST buses plying towards Ahmednagar/Alephata/Junnar going via Malshej Ghat.The  Naneghat stop is around 5 kms from Tokawade village and is not an official stop. So you will have to request the conductor to stop the bus there on the road. The trekking path starts behind a board put up on the road there.

If you are coming by your own vehicle, then you can park the vehicle near this starting point of the trek. There is some parking space available on the other side of the road.

The Naneghat Trek Starting Point on the Road


How to Reach Naneghat from Pune 

1) Pune--> Alephata (by ST Bus) --> Catch another bus towards Kalyan via Malshej Ghat and get down at the Naneghat Trek Starting Point  

2) Pune--> Junnar-->Ghatgar-->Road to Naneghat. (ST buses ply between Pune <--> Junnar, Junnar<--> Ghatgar). This is not a trekking route but a proper paved road which takes one to the top of the plateau. 
There are benches along the edge of the plateau for the tourists to sit and soak in the stunning views. A small dhaba serves food and drinks on the plateau. An ideal getaway for a day's picnic from Pune.



The Trek

The trek starts off on a little muddy flat path straight through the forest right off the road. It seems really easy at first being a flat walk with trees on both sides but soon after some 45 minutes or so (depending on one's speed of course!) the path starts ascending rapidly. The almost flat mud path soon gives way to ancient steps which were hewn from the steep inclines of the mountain.

The stony steps are obviously in a disarray now and time has taken a toll on this path (a play on words intended), which was once extensively used by traders.

The Steps to the Pass


It took us 2 hours to reach the pass from the starting point. The trek is easy but is a continuous ascent. Find your own pace and enjoy the climb taking in the views of the Western ghats.  An intermittent cool breeze would blow on our face from time to time and would take away all our weariness. It was a delightful climb to the pass with the steps leading us through a thick forest abuzz with (hidden but audible) activity.

The Rough Path


There are a couple of water tanks along the steps as we reach near the top of the  pass. The genius of these tanks is that they are carved right under the mountain inclines which helps it to collect all the fresh rain water that trickle down in these tanks. These tanks made sure that the weary travellers of yore could quench their thirst on their way to the high mountain pass. Even today the water in these tanks are so refreshingly cool and clear.

The Water Tank

The steps to a water tank


The Cave

The cave was soon in sight.  Protected by railings, it looks like a grand modern-day balcony carved out from the mountain. The cave inside is quite large with Bramhi inscriptions on its walls. Naneghat comes under the Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI) and a caretaker from the nearby village (on the plateau) is appointed to clean and maintain the place. 

The Cave

The Bramhi Inscription



Naneghat

The small rocky mountain pass is soon in sight. It is a narrow stony path between two vertical rocky walls leads us from the cave to the stone vessel and out in the plateau. The pass is naturally very windy as it the sole passage for the air to rush out from the vast plateau above it. 

The Pass


The Stone Vessel (Dagdi Ranjan)
The Pinnacle from the other side of the Plateau


This trek is very popular during monsoons as the rains lend a totally different aura to the entire landscape here.  Rain water rushes down from the pass cascading onto the steps below like a small waterfall. Beyond the pass, the plateau is a carpet of green grass and flowers.  The mist and fog all around in the ghats lend it a divine look. 

Naneghat is also quite popular for its reverse waterfall. This reverse waterfall is a spectacle to watch with the Jivdhan fort in the background. During monsoons, such is the gust of the wind here in the mountains that the water is literally pushed back on the plateau defying gravity. 

Jivdhan Fort from the Plateau


Food & Toilet Options

Food & toilet facility is available on top of the plateau after completing the trek. The ASI caretaker's family runs a small dhaba which dishes out the local favourites like pithala bhaakri, pohe, bhajiyas, etc as per the tourist request.



















Thursday, January 9, 2020

Cabo De Rama Fort- An half-day outing in South Goa




The Fort:

Cabo de Rama - a fort in ruins set against the backdrop of the Arabian Sea; not the crowded typical touristy spot, but blissful in its solitude with only an occasional chirping of birds and rustling of leaves in the dense foliage that has taken over the fort; a perfect place to watch the sunset on a lovely evening in Goa with your loved ones... Sounds charming, doesn't it?




Well it is indeed the place, serene and calm, away from the hustle-bustle of the city life that an urbanite would like to soak in. With the fort walls rising above the sea cliffs on the west, it offers a panoramic view of the Arabian sea and the virgin beaches nearby. This fort is also known as Cape Rama and you guessed it right, it does have an ancient connection with the Hindu God - Rama. Lord Rama is said to have taken refuge at this very place with his wife Sita during his 14-year exile.



The History:

Before the Portuguese invaded India, this fort was under the Raja of Sonda who was a vassal to the Wodeyar Kings. In 1761, when the Wodeyars were defeated by Hyder Ali, the Raja had to move his base to Goa and had to seek help from the Portuguese.  The Portuguese agreed to protect the King and his family in return for lands of Ponda, Sanguem, Canacona and Quepem and this is when the fort changed hands and was taken over by the Portuguese, in 1763 to be precise.

[There is an interesting article on the Forgotten Royals of Goa - https://www.itsgoa.com/forgotten-royal-family-of-goa/. Do read it if you are interested in knowing about the rulers of Goa before the colonial invaders came in.]




The moat


Seeing Around:

Coming back to the fort, it is a moated structure with nothing much remaining except the crumbling walls, a few turrets, a water tank, a few rusty cannons and a renovated chapel which is still in use by the locals. The whitewashed walls of this chapel provide a fascinating contrast to the dark foliages and walls surrounding it.

St. Anthony Chapel




After entering the fort, one is taken in by the solitude of the place. There are hardly any visitors unlike the crowded sites of North Goa. The place is almost entirely covered with trees making the fort inaccessible at certain places. However, the chapel of St. Anthony is right in front of the entrance on the left amidst a clearing.  A well-trodden path along the church takes us to the western walls of the fort sitting tall on the steep cliffs along the Arabian Sea. One can keep walking along the walls of the fort to explore its charm. A few turrets along the wall, opening out to the sea are the best spots to hang around and take in the views. Sunset is the best time to enjoy the this place before dusk sets in.






Location:

This place is some 30 kms from Margaon, situated in Canacona taluka. Bringing our own vehicle would be the best bet to visit this secluded spot; however buses and taxis also ply between Margaon and this fort. The roads are in great condition all the way to the fort and driving here through rural Goa is pure fun.

Fort Timings: 9 am - 5:30 pm
No Entry Fee
Expected Duration of Visit - 1 hour is more than enough time to explore the place.  Depending on the mode of transport, it will take around 2-3 hours of traveling time to and fro, if you are traveling from Margaon
Note: The fort walls are in really dilapidated conditions at some places and have collapsed. Kindly refrain from walking on these walls to ensure your safety.

Nearby Attractions: 

1) Cabo de Rama beach is situated just 2 kms from this fort. Its a virgin beach lined with palm trees as far as the eyes can stretch. Its a popular picnic spot for the locals.

2) Cape Goa Resort's restaurant is a charming place to watch the sunset in a relaxed setting. The resort is right on the way to the fort atop a cliff by the sea and cannot be missed. The service is friendly and unhurried and the food options are good too.

View from the Fort

Cape Goa Resort


The Steps to the Resort's Restaurant











Monday, January 6, 2020

Fort 2: One Day Trek to Rajgad (Murumbdev)

Name: Rajgad (Formerly Murumbdev)
Height: 4600 feet/1400 metres above sea level
Trek Category: Medium-Difficult trek
Equipment required:  None but wear appropriate trekking shoes for this trek
Base Village(s): Pali leading to Pali darwaza;Gunjavne/Margasni villages leading to chor darwaza;Bhutonde/Bhor leading to Alu darwaza)
Distance from Pune: 60-65 kms from Pune
Time to trek uphill: 2-3 hours approximately ; varies slightly by the route one takes
Where to stay: Staying overnight is possible at the Padmavati devi temple on the fort or in self-pitched tents
Where to eat: Carry your own food & water. Can request food (pithala-bhaakri, pohe etc.) from villagers
Best time to visit: November-February
Guide services on the trek - Not required as the trekking path is quite straightforward and evident.


Glossary:
Tat - Fort Wall 
Bale Killa - Highest fortified point on the fort housing the important buildings like palaces, courtrooms, offices etc.
Paay vaat - A well-trodden path
Maachi - Fortified plateau
Buruz- Bastion
Ambari - Howdah ( a seat for riding on the back of an elephant, usually with a canopy)
Nedhi - Natural opening in the rock wall 
Chilkhati buruz- Armored Bastion
Chor darwaza - A secret door



Brief History of Rajgad:

Rajgad (Raj = Rule/Royal; Gad = Fort) as the name indicates is indeed a royal fort, where Shivaji spent more than 25 years of his life. It served as the capital of Maratha Empire till he moved his capital to Raigad. This fort has seen many historic moments of the Maratha Empire including the birth of Shivaji's son, Rajaram, the second Chatrapati and also the demise of Saibai, the chief queen of Shivaji. Saibai's samadhi (memorial) still stands intact today near the Padmavati temple.

Rajgad is a massive fort with quite a few notable ruins of palaces, potable water tanks and fortified plateaus still adorning its premises. Exploring the fort from one end to another takes a lot of time; hence many visitors prefer to stay overnight to be able to explore the entire fort before descending. There are three main darwazas/entries to the fort from different base villages and also a 'chor' darwaza for escaping the enemies. No wonder, a visit to this erstwhile capital of the Maratha empire is a trekker's delight!

Rajgad as seen from the base



Getting to Rajgad from Pune: 

Take NH4 towards Bangalore and take a diversion to the right at Nasrapur phata. From here, the road to Pali and Gunjavne is pretty much a straight road with written directions to the base of the fort. One can also ask the locals for directions.

Buses ply from Pune (Swargate) to Nasrapur phata and even to Margasni Village. From Margasni, one can hitchhike upto Gunjawane or Pali to begin the trek. Plenty of jeeps and mini-vans too are available which ply between Nasrapur and these villages for a small fee.



Parking: 

Parking is available in plenty at Pali village. I haven't been to Gunjavane so cannot comment but parking should be available without any hassle in these villages.


Food & Toilet Facilities:

There are few eating joints at these villages; however, it is recommended to carry nutritious food and some 2 litres of water per person for the trek.

Potable water is available on top of the fort. One such particular tank is near the Padmavati temple. One can even carry chlorine tablets to purify this water further, if in doubt. :)

A lot of villagers sell buttermilk, nimbu paani and water bottles along the way and on top of the fort as well for some 10-20 bucks. Some villagers also arrange for pithala bhaakri, pohe, bhajiyas for the trekkers as per their feasibility. They get the food for you on top of the fort.

A humble request to not bargain with these villagers,who try to make ends meet, for a paltry amount.

Toilet facilities are obviously not available while trekking.


The Trek:

We decided to take the Pali route leading to the main entrance of the fort, the Pali darwazas, (you read it right, there are 2 Pali darwazas within a few metres of each other) as we wanted to complete our trek in a single day.

1) The Pali route is the easiest one and is basically just trekking for about 2 hours with no steep patches.  One can find plenty of trees along the way as well to rest. After  about 15-20 minutes into the trek, I got acclimatised to my climbing rhythm and breath. Once done that, the rest of the trekking was a breeze. We made it to the Pali darwaza without stopping in 1.5 hours. Starting early at 8 am helped us with the heat factor too.

Pali Darwaza


Pali Darwaza again

The second Pali Darwaza


2) The trek through Gunjavane village leads one to the Chor darwaza, which is supposed to be a tougher but more scenic route to the fort. There is a small patch of steep ascend to the Chor darwaza which is provided with railings. It takes an hour more through this route than the Pali route. The Gunjawane darwaza is not much in use nowadays.

Add caption


3) The third and the not-so-popular route is through Bhutonde village. This route takes one through the Alu Darwaza facing the Torna fort and takes around 3 hours or more.

4) One can also reach Rajgad from the Torna fort. One has to cross the ridge connecting the two forts starting from the Konkan darwaza of Torna and takes nearly 7-8 hours.


Exploring the fort:

Rajgad is truly a royal fort with its many darwazas, chilkhat walls (double fortifications) and its majestic balle killa. It is a sought-after destination especially after the monsoons. Verdant, green carpets adorn the surroundings after the magic spell of the monsoons making the trek even more alluring. One has to exercise more caution though as the trek gets more slippery during the rains.

There are many points of interest atop this fort:

1) We entered the fort through the Pali Darwaza and explored the Padmavati Machi. The Padmavati temple, Rameshwar temple, water tank and Saibai's Samadhi are the highlights of this machi. The Chor darwaza too can be seen from near the tank.

From there, we proceeded towards Suvela Machi first and planned to cover the Bale Killa later. It took us an hour and a half to reach this machi crossing the Chilkhati Buruz and the Ambari. Just after the Ambari, we reached the Nedhe and zigzagged our way up there. On the way there, we saw a beautiful Ganesha embedded in the wall of the fort (Tata varcha Ganapati).

Potable water lake near Padmavati temple


Padmavati temple

Saibai's Samadhi


Suvela Machi and Ambari as seen from Bale Killa








9) After conquering the Suvela Machi ;), we turned towards the Bale Killa. The climb to its Maha Darwaza is quite steep and definitely requires the railings which are fitted there. I had to scramble (read climb) that steep patch hurting my knee slightly in the process :) Once we reached the Maha Darwaza, the vistas in front were mind blowing. This is the same darwaza where the Mughal commander, Afzal Khan's head was buried in.

Further ascent led us to the Chandratal (crescent shaped lake) and another flight of steep stairs took us to the ruins of Sadar (court room) and Rajwada (palace). I literally felt being transported in another world. The stone foundations of these buildings are still intact and I was left wondering how majestic it would have looked in its glorious days. The Saffron flag symbolizing the Hindavi Swaraj, stood near the palace ruins fluttering tall speaking volumes of the bygone era.

Exploring the Bale Killa took us another hour and a half and visiting the Sanjeevani Machi takes about the same time.

All in all, exploring the fort in a day is a mighty task and I would have preferred to camp on top of the fort. However, this particular fort is definitely worth all the efforts. Don't forget to take in the views of the neighbouring Torna and the distant Sinhagad and Purandar on a clear day!



Bale Killa

View from the Maha Darwaza

Rajwada (Palace)

Sadar (Court room)

Chandratal




Route to the fort from Pali Village

Torna as seen on the way to Rajgad



Staying overnight on the fort:

Padmavati temple
, which can accomodate upto 50 people; the Rameshwaram temple which can again accomodate some 5-6 people are the best sites for overnight stay. The authorities have also constructed a tourist hall all secure with doors and windows where one can stay for the night. It is usually locked but one can approach the caretaker through the villagers and get it opened.

One can also pitch a tent in the vast open grounds of the fort. Availability of drinking water on top of the fort makes camping definitely easier.

Enjoy!