Sunday, 6 May 2012

Trek to Sarasgad: The Enigma of Pali

Height: 1610 ft
Location: Pali, Maharashtra, INDIA
Per head cost- 125 INR

Note: Best time to visit would be from November to June. Excellent for budding Trekkers. Pali is well connected by state transport bus from Khopoli railway station. For return journey, a Panvel bound ST bus would be a better choice. 

Pali is a small village off Mumbai-Goa Highway. It is home to one of the eight asta-vinayakas and is popular by name Ballaleshwar Ganpati. I had visited this place earlier during my NCC trip, but the fort was little known to me then.

On a saturday, I had to catch the first local train from Dadar i.e 4.23 AM, which I did and caught a window seat. Well, don't laugh...everyone has a gusto for that :p  Being a slow-local,so my journey till Khadavli station was like watching a paint dry. Others, including  Anup Desai, Nitish Bapat, Anish Bapat, Prasanna Padgaonkar were waiting for me at Khadavli station. So train made a 'mirthy' travel till khopoli.

A shot from train near Badlapur at around 5.30am!!
At khopoli bus stand our wait for Naadsur or pali bus was filled with a cup of tea and bread-sauce. We took a State Transport Bus (Laal Dabba) from Khopoli ST stand to reach pali village (About 1 hour journey). At pali it was time to fulfill our first energy booster- vada paav, misal paav and coffee. And we were all set for the climb.

The fort can be easily spotted by its distinctive 1600 feet height, behind the Temple. Though not much of geographical prominence, it was seldom used by the Britishers. But Shivaji Maharaj used this Fort as a sentinel to guard nearby region. It is said that he used 2000 Hons (Currency) for its reconstruction.

After about a walk of 20 minutes we came across this plateau, from where we got a first-rate view of Tel-Baila; an excellent spot for Rockcimbers. 

Proceeding ahead, we successfully maneuvered the Rock-cut steps and arrived at the base of 97 steps,
each of them were 2 foot high (yes, we counted each and every step while ascending them- Dindi Darwaza).

The stairway is well guarded by two bastions on its either sides. And at the end of the stair-way lies the main entrance to the Fort or Maha Darwaja. Here I got an opportunity to click a puzzling-pic. Have a look-

Sarasgad has a mammoth pinnacle, towering to a height of about a 100 feets, and the fort's citadel lies atop. Reaching the top needs a 3/4th circumambulation to the pinnacle. But the heart of Sarasgad lies underneath this Pinnacle !! 

With about 8-10 Caves, and water tanks inside each of the caves, these served an excellent hiding for soldiers and a prime option for food storage, back then. Here are few snaps...

Iron Man ?

Sarasgad Apartments !!!

Exploring a 3 BHK Cave !!
As compared to other Fortress, Sarasgad is lilliputian. Even though its full of surprises. We were truly lucky to find these.

That's a Snake !!

That's a Snake-skin
Having fully explored each and every cave the two bastion, we proceeded to the citadel. The Kedareshwar Temple, a Lake beside it, Ancient Flag post and panoramic Tail-Baila, Sudhagad are the star attractions. Everyone was starving as we had fully explored the fort, having left no stones unturned. It was time for second boost-up, and the hungry tummies devoured the 10 Aloo Parathas in no time, without anyone bothering to use chutney.

Temple at the top
From up here, one can easily keep a watch on the activities carried out in nearby region. Hence Sarasgad  was mostly used as a watch-post. Though the fort lies in a dilapidated condition its tough Bastions, stone cut steps, Flora and fauna makes it a Thriller. I think its high time for Archeological Survey of India to start 'working'.

We started the return journey at 3.15 pm and barely letting the minute hand touch 4.00 we reached Pali and  downed a couple of sugarcane juices each, along with misal paav & two extra paav. Then, as planned we visited the Temple and spent a couple of minutes there, waiting for  the 5.00 pm bus to khopoli. We reached khopoli ST standat 6.30 and there, pleaded an auto driver to carry 5 passeggers to khopoli station. We boarded the train, watched the stations pass by, until it was a Asta-la-vista baby moment for us. Until we meet again !!!

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