Monday, June 20, 2011

Trek to Aad, Patta, Aundh

We had not been to any 2 day trek in few months, so 6 of us, Harshad, Rasika, Parth, myself, Ashwin & Manali had decided to go for a trek on 10thJune 2011night and be back on 12th. The dates were locked but the place was not, so Manali searched a little and decided that we should visit Aad, Aundh, Patta and Bitanga (Bitangad). We did not know how many of these forts we could visit in 2 days but we decided to visit as many as possible.

Once the place was fixed, I sent out sms to approx 15 more friends and got max replies saying "I would have loved to come but cant due to xxxx reason". Got a few positive replies and by end of the day onthe 9th, there were 10 people in all.Manali and I decided the menu for the trek and divided the work of getting provisions among ourselves . We had booked a 17 seater bus.

As always, after a few cancellations and additions, finally 9 of us started from Pune around 11:30 pm. We stopped for a short nap at a template on the way to Akole. The template is small but the open space with roof in front of this temple is very spacious. I was asleep the whole time till we reached this temple and went to sleep again for another 2 hours.

11th June
After waking up around 7 am on the 11th of June, we decided to go to Akole, have some breakfast and proceed to 'varchi aadwadi' via Thangao - Samsherpur. Aadwadi is placed exactly at the base of Aad fort. We reached Aadwadi around 9:30 am and started climbing around 10 am. We started climbing from the farms near the village and after climbing a bit, had to traverse till the pass between Aad and nearby hill, follow the way which again traverses the Aad fort from other side till you reach a cave. The cave is big and has a small temple of a deity. Passing the temple and following the same path, we reach the carved stone steps. From the stairs, we reach on the top in 5 minutes.After getting lost for few minutes, which is kind of a ritual in our treks with friends, all of us reached on top from one way or another, around 12.There are 5-6 big water tanks carved in the stone. The water in only 1 tank was potable. Villagers have built trenches on the top and on the way to fort and have planted some trees for water conservation. There is nothing much to see on the top other than the water tanks and views around. One can see a lot of windmills around the place and many fort ranges if skies are clear enough.

We climbed down the fort around 1:30 pm, had lunch (Thalipit) that we had packed with us and started for Pattawadi via Thangao. After reaching pattawadi, we were dilemma about going to Aundh fort before Patta, since it was already past 3:30pm and we wanted to stay on Patta fort in any case. So after some discussions we decided to go on Patta and visit Aundh the next day. We started from Pattawadi at 4 pm. Since we had read that it take around 1.5 hours to reach the top of the Patta fort, we had plenty of time, before sunset. We had stopped near a well to fill up our water bottles before starting to climb the fort, and then Manali found number of Jambhul (Black Plum) trees around the way to fort. So we decided to take a 10mins stop to eat Jambhul :) After around 20 minutes we finally started climbing.

The road at start is quite big and a jeep or such vehicle can easily go almost upto the small temple on the way. It takes 15 minutes to reach the temple and Ashram, where one can get tap water, from a water tank on the way up. After climbing a little more, there are 2-3 ways to climb ahead. We took a way on the right, which leads to stairs and a entrance door on the same side as Pattawadi. This is another route to climb up till this point. Near these stairs, there is template of godess Durga. It is a quite big temple, probably was a cave before and then converted to a temple that has been painted. The stairs, near the temple, take you to a big water tank, it is similar to the Ratangad water tank. Half of the tank is carved in the stone such that is has roof and a part of tank is in open. There is a wall between the closed and open tanks such that whenever the closed tank overflows, the open tank starts filling up and you can take water from the open tank. Nearby, a construction is going on, mostly of another temple.. After climbing up a bit from the rocks, we reached near a bastion, from where one can see a building, which is known to be a kothi (storage for food).

When all of us reached this point, it was already past 5:30pm, we had the clouds all over the place and we were no near finding the cave.Parth & Ashwin had already gone to search the cave, Ashwin came back near Kothi and we waited for Parth and to take a decision, if we should stay in the temple cave, we saw on the way up or search for the cave on top... Meanwhile we read the book again and again just to make sure that the cave, the book is referring to is not the same temple cave.. Finally we realised that the book said the cave is somewhere in the topmost area of the fort, so I called up my uncle who had been here before and asked him for direction. He confirmed that we had to climb ahead to find the cave and Ashwin and Anand went ahead to find the cave, while remaining of us sat at the rock discussing about where the cave can be. In 5 minutes Parth came back and told us that he has found the cave and had asked Ashwin and Anand to wait on the way till everyone comes there.. Now the problem was, Parth had not found a good source of water near the cave. There were 2 water tanks just before the cave but did not have potable water. Only potable water there was the little water filled up due to latest rains.

After Parth told us about the water situation, we still decided to go ahead. To go up, we passed by the side of Kothi and saw another huge water tank and a Veergal (A stone with carvings of deities) nearby. The tank was totally dry except some grass grown in it.. We climbed for 5 minutes and reached at the middle of a big plateau. We went ahead on the right side on the plateau which leads to the topmost point of the fort. In another 5 minutes we reached the bad water tanks and we finally could see the cave from there. We went straight to cave to keep our bags. When we were settling in the cave, Parth, Ashwin & Harshad went ahead to find more water sources. In 10 mins we heard them calling us and they told us that they had found another huge cave 5 mins from our cave. This second cave is really large and can accommodate more than 50 people. But it seems that the villagers use this cave as a shelter for their animals. Since there was lot of cow dung spread around the cave and it being too smelly, instead of inside cave being well flattened and cosy, half of us declined to stay in there. While 6 of us were exploring this cave, we heard Parth and the guys calling again with the best news about the Water sources. From a 5 mins climb from this cave, they had found another bunch of water tanks. Most of these water tanks were of the size of small residential society swimming pools. The water in one of the tanks was very good and we were very happy to hear about it :)

We went back to our cave and started preparing for tea. Shridhar kaka prepared the tea while others started chopping vegetables for our dinner or did timepass.. Everyone was very much relaxed now and all were enjoying the cloudy, windy whether, beautiful sunset happening somewhere above the clouds showing us just a few shades of it and still showing the Aad fort and surrounding area some distance far.. It was nice to have such a fantastic evening.After having tea, in half an hour, harshad took Dnyanesh and myself to the bigger water tanks to get water for dinner. While coming back from the tank, the clouds had started to go away and we could walk easily in the moonlight. It was again superb to walk in the moonlight seeing clouds coming and going near us..

While we were off to get water, in the cave others were preparing for dinner or sleep. Rasika, under Manali's instructions :P made a great usal (Mix sprouts curry), while Dnyanesh prepared a quick and nice onion chatani. We had a dinner of bread, usal and chatni and went to sleep around 11pm.

12th June
I woke up around 6:30am, when Harshad and Anand were already out clicking some photos, Parth was preapring for morning tea and others were still half asleep. Finally everyone woke up had tea, then Ashwin prepared a breakfast Maggie. After having breakfast and packing all the luggage, Manali, Parth, Harshad and me went to see the top of the fort, while other waited in the cave. As we went higher, the winds started growing. It was chilly but still pleasant. Due to high winds clouds were moving very fast, giving us some good shots of view around. At the very top, the winds were so high that we had to make efforts for not falling down, but enjoyed that as well.

Around 10am we started climbing down from the cave and after seeing the Kothi, which we had not done the day before, we reached down near the well around 11am. Everyone who had started to climb down before we did, were waiting here for us, being impatience and wondering how xactly we had managed to spend so much time in climbing down, when they had reached there in hardly 30 minutes. After having some more Jambhul on the way, we all finally reached our bus and especially Shridhar kaka and Dnyanesh gained their peace :).

Now we had some discussions about going or not going to the Aundh fort, we decided that we should atleast go and try to go up. After going from the wrong side, coming back to Pattawadi, and going to the base of Aundh fort, by another route, which takes you near the 3rd windmill from the fort's entry path, from where you can see Patta fort. It took us almost an hour to start climbing Aundh fort after we started from Pattawadi.

One can easily find a path to start climbing towards the fort. There are some stairs carved in stone, near this windmill, then you need to follow the small path crossing these 3 windmills and then you actually come face to face with the huge bolders arranged naturally to stand still which is one end of the fort. The rock patch, from where one can climb to top is exactly on the other side of this point. A small path on the right of these bolders take us to the rock patch. Few minute before reaching the the other end from this path, few stairs go up from the left which leads to the patch, but we realised it while coming back from the rockpatch, since we had not come by this path before. We had climbed from wherever we thought the path was, but mostly those were the paths built while installation of windmills and the electricity towers. So we had climbed a small patch from the extreme end, after which we could see the stairs leading to the rock patch. But from here, we could easily have missed it, since the path we came till here, went ahead, mostly to complete the round around the fort.

Climbing the small patches and stairs was fun, considering our last two forts and since I love climbing on rocks rather than anything else. After the stairs everyone was sitting on the way, while Parth and Dnyanesh explored the main big rock patch of around more than 20 ft. Finally I went there and started climbing it, just to see if all of us could climb up and climb down without any safety equipment. I went up half of the patch but then 3 of us decided that we should not go up, as climbing down with the given exposure will not be a good idea and possibly everyone of us wouldnt want to climb up in the first place. So we declared that we would have to come back for this and sadly started climbing down.

Around 3:30pm we came back to the bus. Shridhar kaka had not come up with us, so once we came back he gave us the Puranpoli he had brought for everyone. We ate the Puranpoli and misal and started back to Pune. While coming to this fort, we had seen a lot of Karvand bushes and ofcourse before leaving this area, that was going to be a stop, atleast for 10 mins. We decided we would not stop for more than 10mins and eveyone should either eat as much Karvand and Jambhul as they can, or collect as much as they can. So everyone disbursed around the bus, and few of us went ahead on the road to find more Karvand bushes there. By the time everyone around bus got back to the bus and bus came ahead, where others were, Parth had found a few bushes which were overflowing with big Karvad and we started making cones of leaves and collecting these fruits. In another 10 minutes everyone was back in the bus eating the Ranmeva we had collected.

After taking a stop for snacks at Sangamner, we came back in Pune around 11pm. It had been fantastic 2 days and we had reached in Pune at sensible time. We said goodbyes to each other and happily went home...