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).






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