RAJGAD to TORNAGAD – When HISTORY became our Trek-mate

Team: Sumita, Salil, Kishor, Arun Shitole, Sandip Joshi, Hitesh, Manoj Patil, Manoj Appu, raman, Abhijit, Kanchan, Amit.

Plan: Day 1: Pune Station – Gunjavane gaon – Rajgad (Padmavati Machi) – Suvela Machi – Bale Killa – Padmavati Machi. Day 2: Padmavati Machi – Sanjivani Machi – Tornagad. Day 3: Tornagad – Zunjar Machi – Bini Darwaza – Velhe Gaon – Swar gate.

Rajgad –Torna………………. Rajgad – Torna……………..   Rajgad –Torna……

I have been hearing this being repeated often and at regular intervals over the past year. Discussions of this Trek would crop up during other Treks, at Unnecessary Get-togethers, Birthday treats, anniversary gigs and even otherwise… Some would talk about it in hushed tones of reverence, some with the seriousness as if discussing matters of national security while others with the enthusiasm and excitement of 10 year olds… and why wouldn’t it be so!!! There is so much history and heritage attached to these two forts. Some among us tried to rope along renowned Historian Shri. Appa Parab to enlighten us with all the Historical Facts as in “Live Telecast”.

I have never seen so much back-stage lobbying happening in the context of a single Trek. Each member wanting to ensure that the Trek happened at a time when it did not clash with individual commitments. I’m sure that when Reuben finally announced the dates for the Trek as 11,12,13 Jan2013, Kishor was bracing for some intense lobbying. I wouldn’t know about others, but I was seriously relieved and happy because any other weekend of January was an impossibility for me. I was already Grinning. My Grin only grew wider when I came to know that Sumi will be the Trek Leader and Salil banega “Munimji”… J

From the onset, lots of things were going right for this Trek. To start with, the initial journey to Pune was by the overnight Shirdi bound train. Mhannje 2-3 taas changle zhop bhet-til… compared to the excuse of a sleep managed on buses.

Previous Night : 11pm 10 Jan 2013

Kanchan boarded at Dadar. Poor girl had been enduring a bout of cough and cold. But Rajgad-Torna Trek cannot be missed. Her conversation with her mother while leaving home ended with the warning “Azaari ho-un aalis tar bagh !!” All this pressure and the anxiety of boarding the train with unmarked coaches was showing on her face… which prompted another passenger, a wrinkly Old Man, to ask her “Are you running away from Home?!!?” We all had a lot of laughs at her expense.

Seven of us – Sumi (Sumita), Salil, me (raman), Manoj Appu, Amya (Amit Sawant), Kishya (Kishore Rane) and Badya (Arun Shitole) boarded at Thane. The grim prospect of an ST bus strike the following day posed a challenge but Kishya in his Indomitable way laughed it away.

Our Munimji, Salil, started off collecting money in his own inimitable style – With a smile on his face and a palm jutting out like a knife. Probably for the first time the expression “Mithi Chhuri” could be used in a male context. Manoj Patil, Sandip Joshi and Hitesh joined us at Kalyan. Though our seats were scattered, we managed to stick together and rested till we reached Pune Station.

Day 1: 11 Jan 2013

Though it was 4:30 am, we were all fresh when we disembarked the train in Pune. Kishore went ahead to check out the ST timings for our trip to Gunjavane, the base village for Rajgad.

As usual our Visralu Amya managed to forget a bundle of sleeping mats in the train. But, since the stars were smiling on him and this trek, the train waited till he could retrieve the mats. Having confirmed that the bus towards Nasarapur Phata leaves at 0615hrs, we decided to have breakfast to utilize the free time. I’m not really sure whether a meal had at 5:00 am can be called breakfast. Those members whose body clock disallowed this anomaly did not eat; the rest of us had a sumptuous meal of ultra-lite Kande-pohe and heavy-duty Bhurji-pav.

Abhijit joined us while we waited at the Bus Depot. Our Team of 12 was complete. The number was surprisingly low considering amount of interest evinced by all present and past members of Unnecessary Hikers. Apparently, Shri Appa Parab does not entertain such a small group for his live discourses. So the mantle of explaining the History of these forts fell on our resident Historians – Badya and Manya.

Apart from the 12 of us, we had the company of “The Smiling Stars” all along. Eg. On the day of ST strike we got an “ST” bus till Nasrapur Phata. What better example of Good Luck?

We boarded the ST bus looking forward to the next milestone. Dear Friends, I have to confess that for a long time I have been suffering from a particularly severe form of an illness called BTBAFA (Board the Bus & Fall Asleep) syndrome. Hence, I have absolutely no recollection of what happened till we got down at Nasrapur Phata at around 0730hrs.

Our negotiators immediately started discussions with the local Jeep drivers for the transit to Gunjavane village. One of them apparently gave us a good deal. The wily Bugger pointed towards a much big bigger vehicle while negotiating, but when it was time to board he took us to the much smaller vehicle right behind the bigger one. Humein Phasaya gaya!!… But there was no point in arguing further as the driver of the bigger vehicle had not arrived to start his day.

Memories of the jeep ride while going to Prachitgad flashed in front of the eyes; only more difficult. There were 13 of us (including the driver) in a closed type jeep (with no carrier) which can normally accommodate 8. Add to this, 12 full size back-packs with rations for 3 days. Even we were amazed that we could all Squeeze in. It was a record of sorts.

Over the years of “Unnecessarily Trekking”, my fear of heights has gradually diminished. Slowly I’ve been able to manage the fear of slipping, sliding and the tingling in the soles while looking over ledges. However, nothing prepared me for the FEAR that I was facing in that closed tiny space squeezed in with 12 compatriots on the way to Gunjawane.  “THE FEAR OF PUK”.

It was so easy for a little bit of “Trapped Air” to escape under so much pressure, yet it did not happen. Another instance when The Stars were truly Smiling.

We reached Gunjawane Base Village by 0845hrs. Here we had our 3rd cup of tea since morning. We stretched and visited a neighboring house where there was a scaled-down model of Rajgad, the only such instance in so many treks or forts that we have visited. Though this gave us an idea of what lie in store for us, it was nowhere near the towering presence of Rajgad in the Background. By 0930hrs we were on our way to Rajgad. The route started with an incline right away. There were barely any flat stretches all along.

We crossed a “Couple of Couples” en route. Somebody among us complimented their commitment to literally trek to such Heights to express their feelings; a Good test for a Budding Relationship. By experience we now know that the first Half an hour the body gives a lot of resistance and the trek looks like an impossible task. After that the body goes into submission. However, in Hitesh’s case, the resistance was much higher and longer. Kishor kaka had to literally sweet-talk, goad and even scold to get him to the top. The lightly loaded Manoj Appu pitched in to carry his back-pack.

We took a couple of breaks on the way just enough to catch our breath and to admire the “Nedhe” that we could see in the Suvela Machi section.

As usual the final stretch to the Chor Darwaza at Padmavati machi was the steepest. But we made it in good time. We reached Padmavati Machi by 1130hrs. This gave us a lot of time to look around & pose for snaps. We settled at the structure made for trekkers like us and visited the temple just next to it. Badya was giving us a discourse on the greatness of the Fort when somebody pointed out that we need to have lunch asap so that we can go to visit Suvela Machi and Bale Killa.

Sumi had adorned the mantle of Trek Leader effortlessly. In her own words, the leadership post didn’t matter much, because she has always been organizing the pre-trek arrangements related to food and snacks. The obvious difference compared to previous treks was that she shot a mail giving instructions to each member about the do’s, don’ts and what needed to be carried. Sumi is the uncrowned Queen of our Treks (At least the ones that I’ve been to) and she enjoys widespread respect across the spectrum. Maybe she was oblivious about it. So when she sent a specific mail instructing everyone to carry a lunch and some dry snacks, it resulted in each member not only carrying a lunch for themselves but for other members as well. Even the most notorious ones (Manoj Appu: are you listening?), who have always avoided the hassle of carrying lunch, carried food for themselves and others. All this: because NOBODY messes with Sumi. As a result, a team of 12 was carrying food for 50 people. With so much food we could have Hosted a Banquet at Rajgad, or put up a food stall for other visitors. The food went to the Dogs. I mean literally. I’m sure that there is at least one family of dogs who will remember us forever and pass on this story to several Dog Generations.

Having spent Less time Eating food and More time trying to Dispose the excess, we got ready to visit the Suvela Machi. We left our bags with the caretaker of the fort for safe-keeping, carried enough bottles of water and set off to explore Suvela machi and Bale Killa till sundown. It was not 2pm yet.

Unlike most Forts, Rajgad is truly the King of All forts. It is very extensive on the top which means that it may take several days if not weeks to explore the fort in all detail. But, we could not afford that luxury of time. The next morning we had planned to explore Sanjeevani Machi first and then go to Tornagad.

The route to Suvela machi is a traverse at the base of Bale Killa. On the way we saw Gunjawane Darwaza. It appeared as an unused route. There were sporadic fortifications along the way. Though it was afternoon, it was pleasant as we were traversing in the shadow of Bale Kille. We also passed a green patch with a small temple and a water-hole. After that we were exposed to the hot sun. By now the distinct fortification of Suvela Machi was visible. It is best to rely on the photo album since words cannot do justice trying to explain the intricacies of construction. We encountered Zunjar Buruj (watch tower) first which gave us a grand view of Suvela Machi and the ranges around us. We passed the Buruj and approached the Nedhe (gaping horizontal hole in the rock formation). Everybody wanted to climb and sit in the best location available in the Nedhe. However, even before everybody could settle down in the Nedhe, a swarm of agitated bees near there ensured that we all descended back to the machi at break-neck speed. Going further, we checked out the rest of Suvela Machi. The Machi itself was at different levels and going to and fro meant a lot of effort climbing and descending giant steps. We reached the far end of Suvela Machi before half past 3. Needless to say, it was “Posing” time. After half an hour worth of admiring the scenery and posing in front of it, we decided to move towards Bale Killa.

Bale Killa appeared to be far from where we stood. It is like a centrally located citadel within the fort, constructed on a Hillock. It is the central part of a triangle whose 3 vertices were defined by Padmavati Machi, Suvela Machi and Sanjeevani Machi. As we approached from Suvela Machi to the first inclines of this part of the fort, we were not sure whether to follow the unmarked path to Bale Killa or go back towards Padmavati Machi where we had seen a signboard showing directions to Balle Killa. Finally logic prevailed that there has to be a direct way to Balle Killa from Suvela Machi so we used the unmarked way. We were not wrong. After the initial steep climb in the sun, the path hit a traverse into the shade of Balle Killa which eventually led us to the steps (carved out of rock) almost vertically upwards to Balle Killa. Amazingly we reached the top by 1630 hrs.

Rajgad has plenty of water sources spread all over its expanse. Yet there was this initial scramble to locate drinking water on top.  After everybody’s thirst was quenched, it was up to each member what they wanted to do till sundown. People dispersed in different directions. Some took a nap, others walked around the ruins. We met this fellow trekker Andrew from Hong Kong, who was on his own exploring the different parts of Rajgad. He was fast and efficient in covering every part of Rajgad. Aaple Kishore Kaka did not waste time in giving him information about other forts and places of interest in and around the Sahyadris.

The view from the top was awesome. It was a Grand Visual Treat. The Balle Killa provided an excellent vantage point to control and direct all the 3 machis. The ruins on Balle Killa were good enough to indicate the floor layouts – The Bazaar Peth, The Rakshak Huda, The Rajwada, The Daru Kothar, etc. Even before we could realize, it was sundown. It was 6pm and it was getting cold and windy. Reluctantly we started the climb down from Balle Killa to Padmavati Machi where we had planned our night stay. We collected some firewood for the campfire on the way. Having reached early, Salil immediately got on to the job of preparing tea, which many of us were longing for. Most people felt filled up after this, so there was no immediate clamor for dinner. We had a great eventful day. Everything went off just as planned. The Stars were truly smiling on us.

It did not become as cold as we expected, so nobody was interested in a campfire. The tiring day started showing its effect on all of us as we all started looking for a place to park our bu** and be motionless. The only activity which could be done without moving our bu** was to sing, which we did with gay abandon. Dinner was uneventful though the sleeping arrangements were RACIST – The Snorers and Non-Snorers were segregated. Somebody call Human Rights !!!

All through the day, I was a bit dazed – couldn’t figure out why. As I lay down to sleep, I realized the reason: When we entered Rajgad from the Chor Darwaza, we had actually stepped into History. Everything thing that we saw, had a story to tell. Each wall, every stairway, every detail was screaming for attention. It was overwhelming. Laying there by myself, without any distractions, gradually all the pieces of the Past started falling into place. I slowly drifted into History: the hustle and bustle around the Padmavati Pond during Peace-time. The Karbharins are busy with their daily chores; their children diving into the pond and splashing water; some of them are running up and down the inclines leading to the pond, chasing small animals; some Sainiks are giving teens lessons in combat and warfare. The vigilant guards at the chor darwaza are stopping and checking anyone who wants to enter; their “Chaudi Chhaati” and menacing gait discouraging all the unwanted elements; the Sentries, patrolling along the walls keeping a watchful eye on all the slopes and the rocky patches.

One look at the fortifications and the scene immediately changes to times of war. The Shoor Sainiks crouched behind the thick walls keeping an eye on the enemy below; confident that those walls can withstand all onslaughts. Each Sainik identifying a target; waiting till the enemy soldier becomes a sitting duck and then letting the lone arrow take him out. The Senapati on the Buruj is sending out instructions; changing the formation of troops as and when required to repulse the attack. Sainiks are running up and down along those thick walls relaying messages and replenishing ammunition. Some troops are adjusting the cannons to inflict maximum damage on the enemy; the deafening explosion when each cannon is fired. Those strategic discussions in Balle Killa ; signals being sent to the nearby forts informing status. I could just go on….

It was a cinematic experience. That is when I understood the distant look most of our team members had earlier in the day, when we reached the top. Each one was running his/her own cinematic version of History while exploring the fort. They were all responding with a delay; as if putting the movie on “Pause” before replying.

The whole experience was magical. It did not matter, whether our imagination was factually correct. All that mattered was that we were there at that Historical place and we could feel the spirit of all the Brave and Great Warriors who served on this fort. We could contemplate the Pride and Inspiration each occupant of Rajgad had felt. We could feel the presence of the One and Only, the Greatest of all Maratha Kings – Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj !!! Har Har Mahadev !!!

Day 2: 12 Jan 2013

I realized that I was asleep when I got up. I was already filled with the excitement of exploring Sanjeevani Machi. This also made me a bit impatient. Fortunately everybody was as excited as I was. Even the habitual morning delay offenders (Badya – aikla ka?) were up and ready well before time. Some terse comments from Munimji and the Trek leader deflated my impatience and brought me back to normal. After having the regular bread-butter breakfast & tea, we were all packed by 8am. With the inspiring clarion call “Jai Bhavani !!!  Jai Shivaji !!!” we were en route by 8:15am.

After a bit of climb, we took the diversion to the right for Sanjeevani Machi. This too had a traverse near the base of Balle Killa, only it was on the Pali Side. The narrow path was scenic and pleasant; the sun was on the other side, so we could enjoy the shade. We could see Pali Darwaza on the slopes, Tornagad in the distance and the ridge connecting Tornagad to Rajgad even as we reached Sanjeevani Machi.

The ingenuity of the architecture/construction of the fort was such that even a handful of Sainiks who were defending the fort could do their job at leisure no matter how big the attack was. Some of the Vantage Points were so safe and secure that even “Trainee Sainiks” could get hands-on training during war-time without exposing themselves to any kind of danger.

Suvela Machi and Sanjivani Machi, though they looked similar, were distinct as far as the construction goes. Suvela Machi has elevated steps/platform along the entire length of the external fortified wall to allow Sainiks to comfortably stand behind the wall and easily duck for cover. The mountain on which it was built had steep slopes on all sides. Sanjivani Machi has a Double Wall construction along almost the entire periphery of that machi, each wall almost a meter thick. Between these two walls was a passage which allowed easy movement of Sainiks without being exposed to enemy fire. These differences were definitely due to the varied Threat Perception at different locations. Sanjeevani machi had a broad shoulder just below its fortified walls, which would allow an enemy to accumulate a number of soldiers and bring cannons for an attack. A double wall structure here would serve as a back-up if the first wall is blown apart.  A number of Chikalthi Buruj was scattered all around Sanjeevani Machi. These are bastion-like projections on the outer wall half way down the height of the wall which gives direct line of sight on anybody trying to scale the wall from the flanks. Access to all the Chikalthi Burujs is through very narrow tunnels which can be easily defended.

Needless to say, each one had started playing the war-movie which was paused the day before; everybody relishing each scene. And like every good movie, there was a Grand Interval too. Suddenly out of nowhere, this Gavkari appeared with a vessel full of fresh curd (our Lucky Stars in Play again). As is the trend with Unnecessary Hikers, all his curd disappeared in no time. Our blatant display of greed for the curd gave him an opportunity to fleece us when it was time to pay.

It was 10am and time to leave for Tornagad. Exploring Sanjeevani Machi did not get us thirsty and the curd had refreshed us. We were told that no water was available on the ridge between Rajgad and Tornagad and water was on ration. It was to be had only when all were present, and in quantities decided by the leader. As left through Aloo Darwaza, we were bracing ourselves for this stretch. This entire stretch was over the ridge formed by several small mountains which were lined up between Rajgad and Tornagad.

Though it was only 10am, it was hot and there was barely any shade. The descent was tricky and there were some steep rock-patches. It was clear from the topology of the terrain that our path will be going up and down all the way. Since it was a fairly straight forward path which did not require special path locating skills most of our team members possessed, I had no hesitation taking the lead. Being up front was quite rewarding. The path and the scenery unfolded simultaneously; hence I could fully enjoy the view too. And I could set the pace, which reduced fatigue.

It was me, Abhi jit, Manoj A and Hitesh in front. Since, we were much ahead of everyone, we did not hurry. Soon we reached the lowest level of descent, the point from where the ridge started. We halted for a moment. But Hitesh said that the rest are fast and will catch up in no time. So we took to climbing the ridge at a brisk pace. The Hot Sun and the steep incline made things difficult but there was a silver lining. Walking along the ridge gave a breath-taking view on both sides of the mountain, unlike other paths where we get to see only one side of the terrain.

Hitesh was having a tough time. There was only occasional wild growth which would offer a little bit of shade. At the end of one such descent we came across a recently constructed paved road which connected Bhutande Village to Pali Khind. This was the route that Shivaji Maharaj took to invade Surat. Senapati Yesaji Kank who was based in this village was a key element in these conquests. We continued our climb. Eventually we reached the House of the Curd Vendor who we met at Sanjeevani machi. He had said that we will get free “Chaas”(buttermilk) if we go to his house. This was the only concession he gave us when we were haggling with him over the price of curd. However, there were only 3 glasses of Chaas available which we distributed among the 12 of us. Even water was scarce, as they have to fetch water from a great distance.

At this juncture Hitesh felt it was best if he cut short his Trek. He was having a harrowing time already and the paved road, which we’d crossed, gave an exit for him to hitch a ride to Pali Khind. It was a wise decision in retrospect. After the farewells, we got going. As the hours passed by, it was only getting more arduous. We reached a fork where the trodden path led us down, while the logical path led us up. Kishor went to check out the upper path while we took the well-trodden path. Though Kishor went the correct way, we went in the direction where our Smiling Stars led us. Not far from that point we reached a wadi where a Kind Kaka gave us a fill of water and Chaas. It was not a big detour after all, since he led us to a traverse which met up with the path on the ridge. The “Smiling Stars” were at work once again. What else would explain getting 2 water/chaas breaks where we were told none was available?

After this the terrain became barren with no shade whatsoever. All of us were getting tired of the incessant walking. At one point all were exhausted and wanted a break, but we could not find shade. Short temper and indifferent replies indicated that everybody had reached their limits of exhaustion. Somehow, we trudged along for almost a kilometer before we found shade. Everybody just plonked themselves down on the narrow path without a care. Kanchan who had been braving the flu took a pill before we started again. It was 2pm. Everybody was hungry, but we decided we will eat only when we reach Budhala Machi.

The last stretch was the most grueling grind of the entire trek. It was steep all along. The Hot Sun was bearing down on us. Most of us had stopped admiring the view, it was more about somehow reaching the next milestone. The Back-packs felt heavier than ever. It was one Rock patch followed by another. At the end of one such Rock patch was the base of Budhala Machi. It is difficult to describe the sense of relief at that point of time. It was 2:30 pm. This was a flat piece of terrain just below the machi but we had to choose a rocky patch with big boulders to escape the sun. I silently saluted Kanchan’s perseverance. Inspite of being unwell, she did not lag behind. I guess Girl Power was in full display in this trek. In retrospect, we did cover the ridge at a very good pace. We had our dry lunch here and rested for a while. Though our destination was at least an hour’s worth of steep hiking, we were relieved that at least we had reached the boundary wall of Tornagad.

After the break which lasted almost 1 hour, we got up to scale the rock patch which crossed into the boundary of Tornagad. That is when our Smiling Stars decided to poke fun at one of our members. The fact that Unnecessary Hikers has a trek at least once a month makes managing “Leave” very tricky for our team members. They have to come up with really imaginative reasons and stories to get leave-sanction, which they cook up assuming no one is gonna know. However, the law of averages caught up with one of our team members (leave sanctioned over a cooked-up story), when one of his colleagues (on legitimate leave) from another department showed up at that exact time at that same Rock Patch of Tornagad (at a location where one couldn’t hide from the other) but trekking in the opposite direction. I can’t recollect another instance in my entire life when lady luck had so mercilessly caught a guy with his Pant’s down. I don’t know how he would extract himself from this situation.

Though we had entered Tornagad using a metal ladder fixed at that difficult rock patch, we were still far away from our destination. And no way was the rest of the trek a walk in the park. The trek was tough and difficult. The paths were too narrow. Some patches had scree. We came across another team of two who took a wrong turn to get stuck on a ridge. They couldn’t move in any direction. It took our experts Kishya and Manya considerable effort to get them off their predicament. We crossed Chilan Darwaza and Kokan Darwaza as we trudged along. The rest of the trek was uneventful till we reached the Mengai Devi temple where we intended to stay that night. It was 5pm.

However, Kishor kaka had a surprise in store for us. At the temple his old trek mates : Makarand, Steven and Shrikant were waiting for us. They had started from Velhe village 3 hours ago to reach Tornagad. For us it was more the merrier. Especially, since they had got some tasty Mutton curry from the village. We all had a gala time having tea, soup, preparing dinner and having lots of fun. After dinner some of us wandered off to a nearby Buruj. We laid down gazing at the millions of stars on a moonless night.

There was another trekking group who we had to share the temple with. Also due to the Racist Undercurrents, some of us chose to sleep in the tents we had carried along. It was a beautiful end to a remarkable day.

Day 3: 13 Jan 2013

Morning began with the hustle/bustle of people trying to catch a glimpse of sunrise despite the biting cold. Else it is very difficult to get people out of their sleeping bags. We were right on top of Tornagad, the best viewing point available on that range. We could see the sky changing shades even before the sun rose. The outline of Rajgad in the foreground was simply Ethereal.

The day started at an easy pace. We packed our tents, had tea, dry snacks and breakfast. The day was clearer than other days. It was easy to spot Sinhagad in one direction and Raigad in the other direction. Rajgad looked formidable from Tornagad. We were soon packed up and ready to leave by 9am. The plan was to visit Zunjar Machi and then start the descent to Velhe village from the Bini Darwaza.

Tornagad was not as elaborately built as compared to Rajgad. Yet there was plenty of fortification. We started moving towards Zunjar machi which is at a lower level. It was surprising that there was no straightforward route to go there. It required some rock climbing skills to reach the machi. We were left wondering how the Sainiks managed this in the past. After descending to Zunjar Machi, we were witness to some awesome views of the ridge and the valleys below. We took our time looking around and taking snaps. Very soon we were back to where we started in the morning. We then took a detour of the fort along the wall till we reached Bini Darwaza, where we took a Nimbu Sherbet break at a vendor inside the fort. By now a number of groups had started arriving at Torna, Sunday being a holiday and this being a popular destination for people from nearby towns.

We left Torna by 11:20am. Except for a couple of rock patches, the descent was fairly straightforward. But it can’t be classified as simple. The route is quite steep with varying grades of difficulty. However, we managed to cover this distance within one and half hours. We crossed a number of trekkers trying to reach summit and guessed it would have made the whole place very crowded. We were happy that we had the fort to ourselves the previous day.

By 1pm we were at the same hotel where Makya and gang had packed the mutton curry. The food that we had at that place was sublime and the service was even better. People just couldn’t have enough of what was served. But then all good things have to end. Badya and Kanchan left with Makrand, Stevens and Shrikant who had come in a car. With 2 people and their bags gone, for us too, the return journey to Nasrapur Phata was more comfortable compared to earlier. Since the windows were open, I dozed off without the fear of Puk. At Nusrapur Phata we got a connecting ride to Swar Gate,Pune. My BTBAFA syndrome kicked in and even before I realized we were at Swar Gate. And as if we were not lucky enough, the Smiling Stars made their presence felt once again. The moment we entered the SWAR Gate ST depot, there was this empty point to point ST Bus headed to Vandana talkies (Thane), waiting for us.

We happily boarded the bus and settled into our seats grateful for the favors from Lady Luck. Even as I drifted into another bout of BTBAFA, I faintly remembered those lines by Paulo Coelho in the Alchemist :

“When a person really desires something, the whole universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.”

This Rajgad-Torna Trek was proof to that. We Desired and Dreamt and the whole universe conspired to make sure that it was Realized… The Hype that was floating around this trek turned out to be TRUE. This was one of those Treks which will be permanently imprinted in our memories.

-raman

Kishor’s photo gallery

Manoj’s photo gallery

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