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Trekking In Forts Travel

Beginners as well as seasoned hikers can enjoy the trek to Rajmachi Fort. It is interesting both for its historic features and the natural beauty of the Sahyadris. Rajmachi fort can be approached to via the town of Lonavla along the Khandala plateau. Lonavla is an important train station on the Indian rail network. It is advised to set out early in the morning from Lonavla, because by 11.00 am the sun is really bearing down. From this point make oner way to the Mumbai - Pune Highway (NH4). Trekker's should take a right turn and follow the highway until a signboard indicating the way to Tungarli Lake is reached. This road leads to Tungarli Hill and then turns left. There is dirt track on the left, which leads up the hill to Tungarli Lake - a small lake that is at its best just after the monsoon. It is advisable to drink up and fill up as this is the last point on the trail where water is available. There is an alternative to the trekker's who want to avoid walking on the main road, from Lonavla station they take an auto rickshaw to the base of Tungarli.

Location: Maharashtra
Forts: Shreevardhan Fort, Rajmachi Fort

Sanjivanee MaachiAs one continues up the hillside to Tungarli there is a dam and lake and on the northern end of the lake, one can see Tungarli village. The trail then leads up to a small pass from where Rajmachi fort is visible. The path then descends and joins a dirt track that winds its way along the crest of the hill and disappears into the forests this is the only track, which leads to Rajmachi fort, there are no shortcuts. After about two hours walk one can see a fork in the trail and the path on the left leads to Rajmachi. The trail continues on oner left, climbing gradually and then leveling out. A little later it dips down and up again and then one can see the Rajmachi fort clearly. Continue following the path around the fort and one will finally reach the village of Udhewadi (or Rajmachi). Just before there is a temple dedicated to Kalbhairavnath, and a flat clearing that can be used as a campsite. The trekker's who don't want to camp outdoors, can stay in the temple. Water is available at a tank, which are 100m away on a path to the left of the temple. Cook one's own food or buy some basic village fare of 'Bhakri' and 'Chutney'. On either side of the Col are the two forts of Rajmachi. Once up in the fort one will see that the climb was really worthwhile.

Shreevardhan, is another fort, which is just opposite to the Kalbhairavnath temple. It is the more interesting one, with some secret tunnels leading to the battlements. Two deep caves of Buddhist origin can be seen in Shreevardhan, but they do not contain any elaborate carving or inscription.

Manranjan, behind the temple, gives one a good view of the plains. People who want to explore the area can go the base of Manranjan where there are some simple rock-cut caves, which date back to ancient India when the Bhor Ghat was an important trade route. Buddhist monks used these hills long before they were fortified to guard the Bhor pass.

Return Route:
The return route from Rajmachi is much easier to follow. The trail is steeper and one needs to be very careful. One needs to start from Udhewadi village and follow a well-defined trail, on the hill's western slopes. One can find arrows marked at regular and these arrows marks lead way down until one reaches Kondewadi settlement in about two hours. Trekker's can take an interesting diversion half way down the hillside, and follow a trail, which leads to the ruins of Kondana Caves. These are rock cut Buddhist caves with a Stupa, Chaitya, Vihara and sculptures. An earthquake destroyed the floor of the caves and has left the pillars suspended from the ceiling, without support from the base. Trekker's need to be very careful as there are several large beehives hangs at the cave entrance. It is advised to avoid smoking, peeling oranges or cutting onion or garlic nearby, as this can agitate the bees and cause them to attack one. From the settlement of Kondewadi walk for a kilometer till one arrives at Kondewadi proper (bus stop). One can either walk to Karjat (14-km) from here, or catch a rickshaw or bus and then a local train backs to Mumbai or oner onward destination.

KARLA CAVES-BEDSA CAVES-SAHYADRIS
Location: Lonavala, Maharashtra
Explore: The Old Rock Cut Buddhist Architecture
Karla caves are 2,000 years and it is a very easy trek where one can explore old rock-cut Buddhist architecture. Early Buddhist rock-cut caves can be found all over the Sahyadris. They served as monasteries and were built along the region's ancient trade routes connecting important inland towns. One of these routes the Bhor Ghat runs from Kalyan to Karla where several fine examples of Buddhist caves are easily accessible. One can explore three examples of Hinayana Buddhist architecture. Hinayana Buddhist faith represents the original doctrine of Buddha before his deification and explains the lack of any images of the Buddha in the caves at Bedsa, Bhaja and Karla. Each site consists of one main prayer hall or Chaitya and several residential halls or viharas for the monks. Cisterns carved in to the rock are fed by underground springs and rainwater, and like the rest of the architecture, represent unique engineering skills. Beginning Of the Trek to begin this trek, reach Kamshet station by local train either from Pune or Lonavla. At Kamshet one can hire a jeep or catch a bus to drop one at Bedsa village. If one prefers to walk, head to the Bombay - Pune highway turn left from the station and then takes a road that leads to Pawna dam and Kale colony. Follow this road for about 12-km until one reaches Bedsa village. Bedsa Caves Bedsa caves will come into full view well before one reach the village. From the village a trail leads up to a second village and to the base of the hill, and is followed by a 20-minute climb to the caves. In the monsoons (June-September) the path can be slippery. There is absolutely no accommodation or other facility at Bedsa, though the water tanks always have cool, clean potable water. If one plan to camp in the village or on the hillside one needs to bring everything one requires. A Peculiar Feature about Bedsa Caves an unusual feature of Bedsa caves is the mass of rock in front to the Chaitya that hides the main facade. Two imposing pillars at the entrance create a striking effect characteristic of ancient places of worship. An animal and rider sculpture crowns the pillars and is similar to the ones at the famous Sanchi Stupa. A typical sun window lets in rays of the rising sun diffusing the light to reach the inside. Unfortunately the caves are not well maintained even though Bedsa is one of the smallest with only four caves. From Bedsa a steep trail leads to the top of Bedsa hill. Start at the few crudely cut steps in the rock to the left of the main cave (when facing it), which turns into a trail that is often overgrown and concealed.

It will take one about 45 minutes to the top. From there go left along a fairly well used trail to a small pass (Barrow's pass) where the path forks. Both paths lead to Visapur village about 4-km away. Visapur fort and its soaring cliffs now loom in front of one, a motorable dirt track goes left and leads to Lohagad fort. Follow a trail on the right that leads to a well (clean water) and then to the base of the fort in front of one. From the well, the trail wends its way through a (now rapidly disappearing) wooded area. It then merges with a streambed and leads into Visapur fort. At this point another trail leads off to the right. Taking this will bring one to a village from where one can follow a trail to the Col between the two forts (Lohagad and Visapur) and then down to Bhaja village by a well-trodden path (this is an easier but much longer trail). Bhaja Caves A much shorter route leads one straight down the hillside. After passing the village, take a sharp right that will bring one to a rocky path strewn with boulders and eventually some crude steps cut into the rocks, and to Bhaja. It's a little tricky finding one's way from Bedsa to Bhaja, so if one feel nervous one can pay a villager from Bedsa to escort one. It can be an incredibly hot 5-hour walk in summer, so it's best to leave early in the morning. Bhaja caves are a regular picnic spot on Sundays so if one is looking for peace and quiet come in on a weekday or on a Sunday evening. If one happens to arrive during a Buddhist festival don't be surprised to find monks from the monastery nearby chanting in the main hall. The Vihara's acoustics echo their incantations creating a meditative atmosphere. The evening sunlight's up the Chaitya cave at Bhaja. Some of the caves have figures of humans and animals. Above one of the water tanks just outside the gate leading to cave 19 is an inscription, which probably records the name of a donor. The wooden arches in the main Chaitya are believed to be the original beams dating back to the 2nd century BC. A crudely carved Shiva Linga in one of the caves is a recent introduction, part of an attempt to claim these caves are Hindu. From the caves it's an easy 10-minute walk to Bhaja village along steps built into the hillside. Here one can buy food or provisions and make telephone calls. A twenty-minute walk will bring one to Malavali station. This road will cross the railway track and the Bombay-Pune highway and eventually get one to Karla caves in about an hour and a half. Accommodation is available at the MTDC Holiday Camp near Malavali station but its facilities are very basic. Karla caves also built in the second century BC, are the oldest of the three but the best preserved and finest example of ancient rock cut caves in western India. A large column at the entrance with a lion carved at the base and a sun window make a grand impression. Vivid sculptures of men and women on horses crown the capitals of the pillars. Buddha sculptures carved in the panels indicate later Mahayana Buddhist occupation and the large Shiva temple outside represents some attempt to claim this site for Hinduism. Return to Malavali station along the same route that took one up, from where local trains are available to Pune and Lonavla. Karla The Karla Mountains, probably dating back to 160 BC, harbours the largest cluster of Chaitya caves. Their sheer rock faces provide the appropriate terrain for a rock climber to reach up to the white, fluffy clouds. Another popular adventure spot could be at Bhandardara. Bhandardara is 180-km by road. It has one of the most beautiful lakes in the country surrounded by majestic hills. Other Treks One can go off on long treks around the surrounding hills like Ratangadh, a favorite fort of Shivaji or Kalsubai, the highest peak in Maharashtra, to the sprightly Randha falls or to Amriteshwar, a 1,200 year- old temple. Various forts in the Sahyadris also provide a good base for trekking activities. Forts around Pune like the Sinhgad, Lohagad, Visapur, Shivneri, Purandar, Rajgad, Raigad etc. are some of the few forts. Besides this Pratapgarh near Mahabaleshwar, Panhala near Kolhapur and Torna near Bhor are other exciting options. There are various clubs and private institutions, which organize trekking expeditions on a regular basis to the above-mentioned forts.

TREKKING IN THE SAHYADRIS
Location: Sahyadri Hills, Maharashtra
Famous As: Trekker's Paradise
A trekker's paradise-Sahyadri hills are dotted with many lakes & forests, are also known for remarkable historic forts and ancient Buddhist caves. The Western Ghats in Maharashtra is called Sahyadri in the local language Marathi. The Sahyadris located in Maharashtra are not very high but they are extremely rugged hills with some unique, formidable pinnacles for the avid rock climber. But the range is not just.

The treks in the Sahyadri mean climbing the mountains to reach to the medieval forts. The treks are classified according to region. Note that there are other regions like Nasik region, Pune region, Koyna-Satara region and Warna-Amboli region, which have not been explored by people.

TREKKING IN WAKI WOODS
Location: Near Nagpur, Maharashtra
Ideal Place for: Trekkers
Activity Available: Boating, Archery, Riding, and Bird Watching
Trekking is the art of living, travelling and surviving in the outdoors and being one with nature. One can find a number of Lakes, Wild Life and Bird Sanctuaries, Picnic spots and places of tourist interest within driving distance of Nagpur City.
Waki woods, which is just 30-km away from Nagpur on Saoner road near Waki Dargha. This is a very ideal place for trekking lovers. This resort offers bird watching wide range of activities like boating, archery, and riding. Facilities provided by this resort include furnished-tented accommodation, electricity, water, and telephone.

 
Maharashtra Akola Amaravati Aurangabad Buldhana Chandrapur Jalgaon
Jalna Kolhapur Mumbai Nagpur Nanded Nashik
Pune Ratnagiri Satara   Thane Trekking in Forts
Vasai Yavatmal        
   
 
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