The Raireshwar trek

The Bombayz had come down to Pune a few hours before I reached home after rappelling at Kondividi. 10:30 pm at night,Tiwari and Pranesh join us for dinner at Rasoi Ghar. It’s been close to a year that I’ve had dinner with any of my Engg. mates. This time during dinner, there are no tickets to ponder on, no actions items to be worked upon, no resolutions to be done; Just plain simple talk pulling each others legs! This would probably be etched as one of those few dinner’s I’d remember for quite sometime. We reach home at about 11:30pm. I hit the ground with an aching knee reminding me of today morning’s incident while rappelling. At times, pain is pleasure!

10th Aug

My alarm hoots at 04:45 am. While Chandru gets ready in a jiffy, I literally kick sriram and get him on his toes. Sunil had come down to my place yesterday night. Hitanshu’s almost done with his morning breakfast. Suhas finally makes it to Aundh at about 05:40am. Suhas, Sriram and I hire a rick to ShivajiNagar bus stand. Half way through, I get a call from Akhilesh telling me the Bus to Bhor was to be boarded at Swargate and not at ShivajiNagar as I had mentioned in the final coordination mail yesterday. Damn! This is when it looms over me that what he said made real perfect sense. For the Rohida trek too we’d boarded the bus to Bhor at Swargate and not at Shivaji Nagar. I’d asked everyone to reach Shivajinagar by 6:00am and here I was to ask them to come over to Swargate again. As I call people and inform them of the change, I literally hear them swearing on me for my timely notice ๐Ÿ™‚ .

The bus to Bhor was at about 06:45 am. Twelve of us – Akhilesh, Ashish, Arjun,Suhas, Swati, Hitanshu, Sourabh,Sriram, Shekar, Sunil, Rohit and I board the bus while Soujanya narrowly misses it. We decide to proceed and wait at Bhor. At about 08:15 am we reach Bhor. We had to reach Korla village which is about 20kms from here, to start the trek to Raireshwar. The next bus to Korla was at about 09:00am. Suhas and I decide to talk to the local guys there and arrange for a Jeep. After some deliberations we hit on a guy who accepts to drop us and pick us from the base village for 550Rs flat. We’re more than happy and strike the deal. It would take at least another half an hour for Soujanya to reach Bhor, So we decide to have breakfast at Bhor itself. At around 09:00am Soujanya finally makes it to Bhor and at 09:15am we depart for Korla. The thirteenย  of us hunch into a Jeep. Ashish, Shekar, Sriram sit on the front troubling the driver right from the start while Hitanshu, Akhilesh and I hang out from the rear of the Jeep enjoying the drizzle as the vehicle speeds up the road to Korla. About five kms ahead of the Korla village we come across a thumping river crook. The sheer force with which water was making it’s way out of the canal was simply exhilrating. A few minutes here and we move ahead to the village. At about 10:00am we reach the base village and start the trek.

From the Korla village a diversion to the left takes you to Kenjalgad fort while the one to the right takes you to the famous Raireshwar temple and village. As we start walking up through the clearly paved road up to the village, we have an uninvited guest who further happens to be the 14th member in the team. Dogs are known to be pretty faithful beings and they follow you everywhere you go. But I guess it’s the other way round when it comes to hills. You’re compelled to follow them ๐Ÿ™‚ !

The path up to Raireshwar for the most part of it is already clear cut. But what’s really spectacular about this place is that, unlike any other fort/ hill village; once you start from the base and walk a few yards ahead, You’d be walking literally through paths surrounded by high rise hills everwhere around you and it all looks so spaced out that you’re really showered down by the magnanimity of Nature. The incessant drizzle at a distance makes you feel as if Nature’s trying to unveil it’s creation slowly through a striated screen. It looks so damn beautiful that you’re literally left spell bound. The innumerable falls that rise out of nowhere keep you on your nimble feet and every turn round the hill only gives way to more picturesque landscapes!

Half way up the hill, we come across a person by name Gopal who says he could arrange food for us up there in the village. He then suggests he’d get there to the village and prepare food by the time we reach there. What he said made perfect sense so we agree. A waterfall on the way keeps us busy for a while and even before we realise we’ve almost spent close to half an hour there. Finally we decide to move further and cover quite some distance. At one point we come across a diversion and decide to take the one that went upwards. A ‘No Overtaking’ board round the corner indicated that this road was slowly being developed to help ply regular vehicles up the fort. We follow the path mindlessly only to realise a while later that we’re on the wrong path.. A frail old village woman finally guides us in the right direction and we tread forward. From here on, the further we go, the better it gets! There’s this particular spot wherein you climb up a small hillock and the moment you reach this spot and look ahead you get to see a massive rock ahead of you and a series of cascades to either side of it. A splendid combination of Beauty and Magnanimity, I would say!

From this spot, to reach the Raireshwar village you need to climb a series of about 3oo steps. At the end of the climb a metal staircase has been built to facilitate easy climb for the regular villagers. But for this, the climb up would have been really difficult. Once we reach the top of the hillock and walk a few yards ahead, we get to meet a person whom Gopal had sent in search of us. This guy leads us to the village temple which is believed to be the spot where Sivaji took his oath to Swaraj.ย  Based on the land they own each villager is given authority to maintain the temple. A small but extremely well maintained one! We then move over to Gopal’s house for a sumptuous lunch. None of us realised how cold it was up there until we sat still in the house for sometime. The moment we enter his house and settle down, cold fumes come out of our body! Sriram literally sits beside the stove to keep himselves warm. At about 3:00pm we leave from Gopal’s place and start out trek down. The way downhill is done with in about an hour and a half. The Jeep driver is a bit cross with us for having turned up almost an hour late, but a few minutes with the Bombayz is all it takes to get him back to form. The next bus to Pune was right in the Bhor Bus stand. The Bombayz too are compelled to get back to Pune and from then on move over to Mumbai as they’re left with no other option.

On a personal front, I’d rate Raireshwar to be my second best trek. Most of the credit goes not to the endurance or difficulty but to bounty that Nature’s got in store for you here!


Team :13

Route: Swargate -> Bhor -> Korla village -> Raireshwar/ Kinjelgad

Distance: Bhor -> Korla village [ 20kms ] Korla -> Raireshwar [~8kms]

Altitude: ~4250ft. above MSL.

Endurance: Low | Difficulty : Low/Medium [ At the fag end ]

Time : Uphill: 3hrs. Downhill: 1.5hrs

Transport:Reach Bhor by Bus from Swargate [ 6:45 am ; 07:30am ], Bus to Korla from Bhor is at about 09:00am. Jeeps available if required.

Expenses: Rs 180

Stay: At Raireshwar village

Prominent Spots:Raireshwar temple , Kenjalgad fort.

Best time to visit: Monsoon!

The Prachandgad trek (Torna)


Dhok pings me and Vaibhav at about 4:00pm to let us know that we may have to get to Muralgad on bikes, as commutation by ST may become a problem. There were about eight of us and we weren’t really sure how many would fancy biking to the base. With all this, Muralgad as this weekend’s destination didn’t sound that interesting! I’m not sure whether it was me or Vaibhav who brought about the idea of changing the plan and getting Abhishek to agree on Torna instead. Couple of minutes later, Dhok sends out a mail to the Deccan Highlander group and by about 06:00pm the count stood at 7. Later, I get to know from Suhas, Dhok received a solid dose from him for changing the plan. I’ll let Vaibhav take that honorable priviledge ๐Ÿ™‚ .

July 19th

5:00 am as the regular Continental music wakes me up, I’m up in seconds. After the Katraj – Sinhagad trek, this was one of the first monsoon treks that fell in the medium difficulty category and besides, who’d want to miss the oppurtunity of trekking to a place that was approx. 4,600ft above MSL? Ashutosh, Sourabh, Omkar, Vaibhav and I reach Swargate at about 6:30 am. Abhshek Dhok by call, lets us know that he and Abhijeet would be joining us in a couple of minutes. The next bus to Vehli – the base village for Torna, was at 07:30am so we decide to have a quick breakfast at a nearby restaurant. Just as we start moving, Uwaraj and Swarnika pop in from nowhere with their ever smiling faces. Finally we’re 9!

We’re well ahead of time for the 7:30 am bus service. As the bus arrives and people board, we realise they’re not many takers to Vehli. In a way, I’m surprised. Torna is quite a famous destination for weekend treks and today it looks like we’re the only group all set to explore it. The first half of the 65 kms journey goes pretty somber with not much activity from anyone. Soon we hit upon playing Dumb charades and from then the journey gets interesting with people struggling to enact stuff; What with Uwaraj and Swarnika coming with the wierdest movie names!

At about 09:00am, the one and a half hour journey comes to an end and we reach Vehli. Two of Vaibhav’s friends were to join us at the base from Pune. They’d left from Sus road on a bike and were soon expected to reach there. As we wait for them for about fifteen minutes, Vaibhav and Dhok dole out spirit tales of various forts of Shivaji. There’s a belief that the Torna fort is haunted by a Brahmin Spirit who has issues with people staying on the fort overnight. Mythology has it that most of Shivaji’s forts have had human sacrifices to assuage the ‘power’s that may be’ to help them build the fort and maintain them. Before things got murkier and people started concocting wilder stories some noble soul decides to start the trek ๐Ÿ™‚ !

In quest of the spirit

Vaibhav,having trekked this place more than thrice led the group. Right at the base, once you walk across the small village households you come across a small cascade where you get to experience that real rustic atmosphere. The sight of little kids joyously fluttering about in the slimy water takes you back to those carefree golden days! As you move further ahead, the hilly terrain begins and the path that you need to follow is more or less starkly demarcated. From the base the peak stands to your left, so somewhere up there you need to be taking a left and keep following the path. Ashutosh , Abhijeet and I somehow happened to trail behind and at one point realised there was a short cut up to a certain point. Our wild instinct gets the better of us and even before we decide logically, we’re amidst shrubs and bushes. The humus soil and the steep climb up make things quite interesting and we manage to reach a level plain about ten minutes ahead of the remaining folks. Omkar, Vaibhav, Dhok, Sourabh and Uwaraj soon get along while Swarnika leads from behind! A quick break there and we start moving along. There’s this particular spot enroute wherein you get to see the towering hillock right ahead of you, a deep valley just below your feet and a cascade at a far distance away. In a way emoting and reminding, where you scarcely fit in this whole huge maze.

The last thirty minutes of trek uphill is indeed pretty interesting. Though you do have railings to support you in case you miss a foot, you’d do pretty good by just scaling up the rocks without their support . This part would have been a bit risky had it rained. Nevertheless, it isn’t something that is too life threatening. The climb uphill lasted for about three hours and we managed to reach the top by 12:30 pm. About a quarter of an hour is spent in the temple courtyard and then we leave to explore the ramparts of the fort. Thankfully, the climate’s in for a swing and it gets pretty misty. At one end of the forts bulwarks you get to have an panoramic view of the Sahyadris. We literally could experience the clash of two clouds! Who even wants to be on cloud nine when you could as well be at a prospective point of electric discharge? Eh! A bit too far stretched but I bet you wouldn’t have experience this even ๐Ÿ™‚ .

A few steps to that long arm!

There’s this particular spectacular spot wherein you get to have an extended view of the valley ahead of you. But for this, you had to get down a small iron ladder and then down some slippery rocks and walk a few yards around a narrow path to reach that spot. While Dhok and Omkar stood atop the rocks to give support to those of us who had interest to get down ; Abhishek , Vaibhav, Ashutosh and I trailed on the path a bit further only to get back as visibility was close to zero. The climb back to the rocky base and then up the ladder was probably the only risky and exhilarating part of the whole climb uphill.The Machi on the other side of the temple was pretty inviting too. You had to stoop on your knees and get to the other side of the Gaurd post. Probably this was one of the vital strike back point of those days.

At about 02:00pm we started the trek downhill. But for one particular spot which took a while to bypass the remaining stretch just required you to keep yourself on your feet and keep moving. We had a team of 150+ folks from Iflex who’d come to Torna that same day. Sadly, a few among them had dropped the waste after having their packed lunch. Abhijeet and Dhok happened to notice this and almost half way through the organisers of the ICE team had been at the receiving end !

Had a great time sprinting down the second half of the peak. The thrilling experience of not being bothered about the final destination but just being worried of where to keep the next step and deciding everything and orchestrating it to your muscles in nanoseconds is what I guess keeps me on my toes every weekend.

At about 4:00pm we hit the base. We’d arranged for food for the nine of us at a small restaurant at the base before we started our trek. From the restaurant owner we get to know that the next bus to Pune was at 4:30 which was supposed to leave at 4:45pm. So all of us have a quick lunch and we head back to the stop. Surprisingly, Abhijeet and Omkar had just spoken to a Sumo driver to get us to Pune. The nine of us and four others hunch into a Sumo and head back home! I doze off to glory and by the time I get back to my senses, we almost reach Swargate.


Hike Details

Team : 09

Route: Swargate > Old Katraj > Bhor > VelhI village > Torna

Distance: 65kms

Altitude: ~4,600 FT above MSL

Time : Uphill: 3hrs | Downhill:2 hrs [Monsoon]

Transport: Swargate – VelhI [ ST: 06:30am, 07:30am ] | VelhI – Swargate [ ST: 04:30pm, 05:30pm ].

Expenses: Rs 150 Approx.

Stay:One day / Overnight [ Accommodation available in temple – Believe you’ve got to take the keys from the base village]

Best time to visit: Monsoon!

Endurance: low | Difficulty : Medium

Misc. Details: Torna aka Prachandgad is believed to be the first fort conquered by Shivaji after he vowed for swaraj at Raireshwar. The vastness of the fort led to it being named Pranchandgad.