Trek to Tungareshwar

Trek to Tungareshwar

19th July 2009.

Participants: Pawan, Rakesh, Anil, Anand, Nilesh, Harsh and Diggaj

I had actually planned to go for mountain biking at Tungareshwar on Sunday. Since my friends had planned to go for swimming at the same place, we all decided that we will do some trekking and later on then go for swimming at one of the waterfalls.

Early morning at around 6:45 am we all assembled in our area. Anand and Nilesh planned to reach the base village by their motorbikes with Harsh and Anil while the rest of us took a rickshaw directly to the base village. We all gathered at the base village and started our trek at around 7:30 am. At the start there is a small stream crossing our way with moderate water flow. The stream is quite shallow that people manage to cross even with their vehicles.

After trekking a bit further, we came across two more streams. These streams only flow during the monsoons. After crossing the third stream, we saw the route getting divided; one going to the right and one to the left. We took the left route which led us to the holy shrine of Tungareshwar Temple. During the monsoons, on the way we will find lot of waterfalls some big and small passing along the route.

It takes around half an hour to reach the temple from the base village. This place gets crowded especially on weekends and on prominent days with picnickers and pilgrims. Since we reached early in the morning, there were very less crowd.

After reaching the temple area, we found a route on the right side which seemed to us leading to the top of hill. With curiosity, we asked a local old man about this route and he said that this route will lead us to the hill top (which we could hardly see as it was covered with mist) and that there is also an Ashram of Sadanand Baba at the top.

Since it was just 8:00 in the morning, we had ample amount of time left. So I and Anand suggested that we all will explore a bit at the top. We all continued to trek in the search for ashram and the mists covering the hill top, unaware about the distance or time it would take us to reach the same. Initially, we had thought that we will wind up the trip by 12 in the afternoon, therefore nobody had carried water or eatables except Pawan, who had two packets of Chakli in his backpack.

The path or route is very clearly paved passing through very thick forests. The route is quite wide enough for people to bring in their vehicles and it is very unlikely that one would miss the route. After gaining some height, we were welcomed by some strange and nasty jungle flies (blood sucking ones) which accompanied us all along the way till the top and also ensured that we do not take any breaks in between and cool our muscles.

Now, nearly trekking for around 2 1/2 hours, we found on our way a small waterfall with crystal crystal water. Since the water was quite clean and in a condition to consume, we all drank to quench our thirst. After taking some rest near the waterfall, we proceeded further in search of the ashram. After reaching the plateau we found a small path (leading to the right side) apart from the main route. This route led us to the Tungareshwar plateau which is at an elevation of approx 1800ft above sea level.

The top was very much filled with mist which restricted our visibility to 5 to 10 meters. After walking for 5 min or so, we found an abandoned tower hiding behind the clouds. We explored for some time around and some of us managed to climb the tower to get a glimpse of the whole plateau. But since the area was covered with mist, the visibility was quite poor and we even did not find any traces of the Ashram.

We thought that the old man down at the temple had fooled us about the existence of an ashram at the top since we did not encounter on our way up. Finally, we all decided to return back down by following the same way. Just after 2 min on our way down, we met two villagers approaching us. They had come to the top in search of some Ayurvedic herbs. We asked them about the Ashram and to our surprise we came to know that the Ashram is just within a distance of about 10 min away from the plateau. Since we all had trekked now for more than 4 hours, we all decided to turn our way back and started walking towards the Ashram.

We reached the ashram at around 12:30 in the afternoon and had a good refreshing tea made using some local herbs. After resting approx for 10 min a person from the ashram itself invited us for a lunch. The lunch was actually a surprise for us as we had not expected something like this in the deep jungle. After having a sumptuous lunch which consisted of rice, dal, etc., we proceeded to return back at around 1:30 pm.

It took us around 3 hours to reach down to the temple. We went to a local waterfall near the temple which was now already crowded with lot of people.  Since Diggaj was very keen to swim, he set out to find a suitable spot. After spending some time swimming, we all winded ourselves by 6:30 pm.

We all started descending from the temple to the base village where Anand and Nilesh had parked their bikes. It was decided that Pawan, Diggaj and Anil will take and rickshaw back to home and others will return by the bike. Finally all of us managed to reach home by 7:30 pm.

Again an unusual and wonderful experience to end the weekend.

Thanale Caves

Date: 27th and 28th June 2009.

It was a very fine day with a cloudy cast over the sky. As usual I had planned to leave on Saturday Evening from my home. This time Pawan and Jatin had also planned to join for the Trek.

Our plan was to reach Thane Station to board the last local at 9:10 pm to Khopoli. Hence, we took a Pune bus from Vasai Road to Thane at 7:30 pm. Unfortunately, the bus met with a huge traffic at Sativali which made our chances to reach Thane station on time almost impossible. Considering this situation, I thought to change the plan and directly head to Panvel in the same bus. Since the bus was not going en-route Panvel, we decided to get down at Belapur and join Gopal who was yet to start his journey.

We got down at Belapur at around 10:00 pm and waited at the bus stop for a few minutes for Gopal to join. We four, then set out to Panvel which is at a distance of 20 min from Belapur.

After reaching Panvel, luckily we saw a bus going to Wai. Since this bus had a stop at Khopoli we boarded the bus and bought the tickets. Khopoli is at a distance of 38 kms away from Panvel by road. It took us around 1.15 hrs to reach Khopoli bus depot (Sheel Phata Bus Depot). This is the point from where we had to take an early morning bus (6:15 AM) to Ganpati Pali.

Since the rest of the group were already waiting at Khopoli Railway Station, we (four of us) thought of walking from the Bus Depot to Khopoli Railway Station which is around 4 KMS away. We reached the station after a brisk walk of 30 min. We met the rest of the team members who had already finished their dinner and were waiting for us to join. Since the area was not conducive to stay, we decided to hire some rooms in a lodge somewhere nearby.

Unfortunately, even this didn’t work out. The prices were quite huge and we did not felt it worth to spend for just 5 hours as it was around 1:30 in the night. Gopal suggested that we all will proceed back to Sheel Phata Bus Depot and have the stay over there.

Everybody (16 of us) started walking towards the Bus Stop and it took us around 40 mins to reach the same. The bus depot was quite spacious and was well sheltered to accomodate everyone of us but the area was quite filthy and full of mosquitos. Some of them managed to have a short nap, others were just roaming here and there to escape from the mosquitos. Sib and his wife dropped by at around 3:30 AM by the Pune Bus.

Everyone was quite excited and awake well before time to catch the morning bus to Pali. Some of us had a refreshing tea from a stall nearby. The bus arrived at around 6:15 am and we all proceeded to Pali. We reached Pali at around 7:30 in the morning. At Pali we met Kiran and team (5 members) who all had come in a private car.

We had our breakfast at the local canteen conisting of Poha, Vada Pav, Misal Pav, etc. There was a bus from Pali to Thanale Village at 9:45 am. The time was now 8:10 and since the next bus to Thanale Village was around 9:45, we planned to take a bus at 8:30 to Dhondse Phata and then proceed from there to Thanale Village which is around 5 km. From Dhondse Phata, Nadsur Village is around 1 Km. We all reached Nadsur village in just 10 min and then continued further to Thanale Village which is around 4 kms.

We all assembled (23 participants) at Thanale Village and had an introduction session. We also shared some knowledge about the location and especially the caves. After the introduction session we were accompanied with some local kids as our guide. The area is quite thickly forested and it is very easy to lose one’s trail. But since we had the locals as our guide, we never had any problems finding our way.

It took us around 3 hours to reach the caves. In between we also encountered with a small waterfall with crystal clear water. Many of them cooled off their heated bodies as the weather was quite humid and it didn’t rain. Some of us even filled the empty water bottles with the flowing water.

From the waterfall, the caves are clearly visible. These Caves are believed to be 2,200 years old. The caves encompass an arrangement of about 20-22 halls, each meticulously provided with spaces in the form of benches and reclining platforms. The most aesthetic of the halls, which was once an important congregation center for prayers, features many Stupas. The last vestiges found in one of the caves point to an association with the erstwhile Mauryan dynasty. There are exquisite carvings decorating the ceilings and doors.

For the first time, punch marked silver coins of Ashokan period (268-227 B.C.) were found here. These caves would be older than the Bhaja Cave complex, the oldest known. After the decline of Chaul as port during the end of 5th century, the trade routes were altered and this cave complex was rendered desolate and fell into oblivion. It was rediscovered by a missionary J. A. Abbot in January 1890.

It is believed that the revolutionary Vaudev Balvant Phadake used to take refuge in these caves. Cave 8 is the only Chaitya. Cave 3 is a memorial complex consisting of 6 monolith, 2 corner stones and 5 built-up i.e. Total 13 stupas. Cave 7 is a model for engineering , architecture and Grandeur, Vestigies of ancient plastering and paintings are also present.

Some of us explored the caves and the adjoining areas. We walked through the front side of the caves and managed to reach the top of the hill which the caves belonged to. After the exploration session, we had some light snacks which we had carried along with us.

We all started to proceed down to the village. The decent was quite quicker as compared to the ascent. We all reached Thanale Village at 2:30 pm. It took us around 45 min to reach Thanale Village. Here, we had a break of 5 min and again started our walk to Nadsur Village. After reaching Nadsur, we all took a Vikram (8 seater rickshaw) to Pali.

We had some snacks at the local canteen before the Thane bus arrived at 3:45. We all did not board the bus as it was already crowded with passengers. Luckily, there was a Panvel bus which was supposed to leave at 4:45 PM from Pali. We all boarded the bus to Panvel.

Winnith, Tejas and Nitin got down at Khopoli to take a train back to Mumbai. Others continued to travel to Panvel. After reaching panvel, everybody returned back to mumbai through different routes.

Malhargad – Pune

Malhargad is a hill fort situated around 30 km from Pune. Malhargad is also known as Sonori because of the village Sonori situated at its base. It was the last fort built by the Marathas. Hence it is also known as Tarun Killa. Tarun in Marathi means young and Killa means fort. The Sahayadri range to the west of Pune in Velha taluka is bifurcated, one of which has the forts Rajgad and Torna, while on the other range are the forts Sinhagad, Purandar, Vajragad and Malhargad. This range is known as the Bhuleshwar range which is spread along the East-West direction. The fort is believed to be built to keep watch on ‘Dive’ ghat along the Pune-Saswad route.

The fort was built during the period of 1757 to 1760. The fort was built by Panse, a Peshwa Sardar, who was the chief in- charge of To%hana of the Peshwas. Citations of a visit of Elder Madhavrao Peshwe to the fort are available in historic documents. A palace, belonging to Panse, can be seen in the Sonori village though much of it is in ruins.

An easy trek leads to the top of the fort. The entrance is still in good condition. There are two temples constructed side- by-side which are also in good condition. The smaller temple is of Lord Khandoba and the larger temple is of Lord Mahadeva. The fort has been named Malhargad because of the temple of Lord Khandoba. There are a few cisterns also. From the top of this fort, Jejuri, Purandar-Vajragad, Sinhagad & Parvati can be seen with naked eye.