Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Trek to Parvatgad, Songad & Duber

My blog says I should also write about Travel but I realised posts on this area were missing. Here's the first.

Yeole and me in the sumo
After much discussion on the forts to see we decided on Parvat, Songad, Duber & Aad as the forts we were going to visit. The plan was to leave Friday night at 10.30. Abhijit, myself, Dnyanesh, Harshad, Himangi, Manali, Parth, Pranav & Shridhar (aka Lalya) was the cast in alphabetical order.

However accounting peoples' other commitments, it was 11.30 before we loaded our sacks onto the sumo and picked up Dnyanesh en route. From here our tight fit journey began, since there were 9 of us crammed into a sumo suitable for just 7 size zero persons.. However the sumo was not your average rattle on the wheels type of vehicle. We had power windows, AC and central locking! Our first destination was Parvatgad, so we were heading for a village named Sonewadi via the small town of Akole. The drive beyond Rajgurunagar was simply awesome as we were travelling inside a thick blanket of clouds. Just before 4am we reached Akole and decided to rest for some time before continuing in the morning.

All of us got up by 7 and after having tea and packing up, we were on our way again by 8. We stopped near the Akole ST stand for breakfast. 8am is early for most rural towns and there were hardly any eateries open. We managed to find one and ordered. However, the wada-sample-pav turned out to be all oil and no sample, and the wada was just boiled potato. Me and Manali then feasted on half a dozen bananas and we were ready to start. We picked up a few knee supports since the elders amongst us (viz., myself, Parth & Pranav) have recently started to feel the need for it, and zoomed off to Sonewadi.

Parvatgad from the Maruti Mandir
Once there we realised that the way up to Parvatgad will be shorter if we drive down to a small maruti temple atop a small hillock that is at the foothills of Parvatgad. We did that and after unloading cameras, water bottles and other *necessary* gear started off the short hike. The way to the top is mostly simple except for a small slippery patch which is deemed easy for everyone but myself :) We reached the top in just over an hour. There is another small hillock, after which you reach the top of Parvatgad. We met a few locals who had got their cattle for grazing. One of them had a radio with him and the local station was playing classics like Kabhi Tu Chhaliya Lagta Hai. Parvat does not have much construction, but there is a man-made water tank that had some potable water. There are 2 more tanks carved into the rock, but these had no water.

After having our lunch consisting of parathas, pickle & curd we had rest for some time under the shade of a tree. It began to drizzle after a while and we decided to start walking towards Songad. Now the way to Songad is such that when you are facing Songad from Parvatgad, start walking towards the right edge of Parvatgad. From here a small way laden with rocks of varying size leads to the col between these 2 forts. After a short descent this way moves towards the left and gradually climbs down into the col. The entire way is littered with custard-apple trees. However all the fruit was still raw. Maybe the locals had already picked up the ripe ones!
Bleu flowera beautifula Songad from the Maruti Mandir

Once in the col, keeping Songad on the right start walking into the tree covered route that takes you up Songad. We stopped here for a refill before moving on. It takes about 30 mins from the col to reach the first plateau. From this plateau there are carved steps that lead to the top of Songad. By the time we reached the plateau it was raining hard and I was thoroughly enjoying since Pune's having a rather dry spell and I had not gotten drenched this season. We negotiated the steps in under an hour and were on the top of Songad. The top has a lone temple of Khandoba and a rock carved water tank. As about 4 we decided to start back, as the plan was to reach Duber and stay on the top of that fort. During the descent on the stone steps, my knees started to play havoc and I had to resort to the knee support to help calm them. We got down soon, then got into the sumo and started towards Duber.

Aqueduct beside the steps

Duber is located on the way to Sinnar and we reached Duberwadi, the base village at around 5.30. By this time my left knee was aching bad and I had to trade my sack for a lighter one. Yeole took my sack and gave me some ointment to rub on my knee after which I could continue the climb. The entire way upto the top of Duber is made of recently constructed steps, so for the first time in my life I was happy that the fort has regular steps.. Along with the steps, you can see an aqueduct that runs all the way to the top. The aqueduct seems defunct now since it's broken at many places and is clogged with mud as well. We reached the top at around 6.30, just before dusk.

The top is expansive, but the only construction is a temple and an abandoned radar building. We quickly headed towards the temple and started making arrangements for dinner. Our water reserves were low, so Dnyanesh, Parth & Yeole set out to look for the tanks. These guys were looking for water for almost half an hour when Lalya decided to call one of his friends, who had been to Duber previously. With a little telephonic help the guys were able to find the tanks. These are situated close to the abandoned building on the slope that leads towards the base village.

Meanwhile the others had chopped up the onions and tomatoes and Lalya got busy preparing matki usal. Once the kitchen was fired up we were constantly bugged by a friendly cow who wanted to have a part of a dinner. All our efforts to shoo her away were in vain. Ultimately someone picked up a broom from the temple and hit her so she went away for a while, to come back when we started dinner. After this somebody had to always keep a watch and make sure she's away from our food :) After our stomachs were full, we stowed the remaining usal away for tomorrow's misal and went off to sleep. The temple was a tight fit as well, with everyone just fitting in. The temple also had a perpetually 'ON' tubelight so Dnyanesh and Parth had to again go out and remove the wires which were put back in the morning.

Windmills near Duber
Due to a hectic previous day all of us were awake only by 9. Lalya had already started preparations for tea and hot tea was soon ready. Meanwhile preparations for misal and gorging on the plum cakes courtesy Manali was underway. Pranav made tasty tarri to accompany the misal. We polished off the misal, and soon dropped off the plan to visit the 4rd fort - Aad. Instead we planned to visit the Gondeshwar temple in Sinnar. After some more lazing around we started walking down. We were greeted with pleasant sights of lush greens, with windmills strewn all over. There's also a natural lake on Duber, which we saw on the way back. By the time my aching knees reached down, maggi bhel was ready. I quickly finished it off and then we loaded our sacks back onto the sumo and left for the temple.

Local kids at Gondeshwar Temple
Our sumo driver had to literally fight his way through the temple gates. The road was very narrow and littered with dogs, sheep and other cattle. We finally reached the temple and were simply awestruck by the stony magnificence of the same. The temple reminded me of other great monuments like the temples of Khajuraho and Hampi. I never knew a well preserved example of Hemadpanthi grandeur lie resting near our very own Nashik. The temple has a main central complex that houses the shivling. There are 4 smaller temples on 4 sides, and the entire temple complex is set on a plinth raised about 2 metres from the ground. We were greeted by local kids who would not let us observe the temple in peace until we clicked some photos of them. So while I made the kids happy the others got clicking photos of the temple and the serene surroundings. The walls of the temple, as like any similar temple are covered with carvings of gods, goddesses, demons, scenes from ancient stories and also a few sinful scenes ;) The carvings and overall majesty of the temple are definitely no match for the greats like Hampi and Khajuraho, however, in spite of being in one of the most the bureaucratic states the structure lies mostly unharmed and well maintained. Happy to have discovered this magnificent building we got on the road back to Pune.

We reached Pune at around 10pm and by this time many of the stomachs had gone bad due to the bad food in the evening. Dnyanesh had a high fever. Everyone decided it was best to go home and have a lot of rest, so that we carry over the enthusiasm for a better part of the coming week !

Photo credits and more photos from this trek
  • Himangi Lawate - http://picasaweb.google.com/himangi.c/ParvatSongadDubera28th29thAug2010#
  • Manali  - http://picasaweb.google.com/manalidk

Additional reading
Gondeshwar Temple - http://shri-lakshmi.tripod.com/gondeshwar.htm

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