Per head cost: 900 INR (Mumbai to Mumbai, read further to find out what all it includes)
Salher Height: 5141 ft
Salota Height: 4986 ft
A after 2/3 precipitous stairway climbs, comes another plateau which houses a Havan Kund (यज्ञ कुण्ड), some broken sculpture remains (of dunno what !! ) and many more water cisterns. From here we can see two caves, which is the only shelter above, up here, which can accommodate about 50 people at a time. And in its front, lies an open temple of Renuka Devi (रेणुका देवी ), a temple of Ganesha (गणेश ) & an outstretched lake Gangasagar (गंगासागर ) and still more baby ponds सूर्याजी टाके, गणेश टाके इत्यादि (So you must have realized that water is not a problem here).
|Salher Fort at 12 O'clock|
It was almost 12.30 PM, and after having our lunch, we left for Salota. We kept our Ruck sacks in one of the caves, and started for the 2nd destination.
|Salher: As seen from Salota|
|Salota: As seen from Salher|
|Takara (टकारा) Pinnacle and the setting Sun in the background|
Hargad Height: ~ 4450 ft
Mulher Fort: ~ 4500 ft
Mulher village is comparatively big and has many hotels, stores etc. After refilling the food-stock & downing a cup of tea, we again started off. We trod all the way from Mulher village to the base of the fort. Its a tar road with very less tree cover. Our first destination was Hargad (हर्गड़ ) fort, and then stay at Mulher Fort. Finding the way to Hargad Fort was too much of tiring & time consuming. The reason being, the fort is hardly visited by trekkers, as there is no water supply nor shelter at the top (there is water at the top, but it is not fit for drinking). And the dense tree line at the base, makes it impossible to trace the proper route. The actual route follows all the way through the forested cover up to the gully (V- gap), between the valley (Ref. see the photo below). Only standing structure at the top is the Someshvar (सोमेश्वर) temple. Two cannons, ruins of building, palace remains is all worth watching there.
Having explored the fort, we left for Mulher Fort, as the cave there were our shelter for tonight. If you have a good binocular with you you can try to spot an old canon on Hargad from Mulher top (you sholud be on Mulher top, facing Hargad) .
|At Hargad Fort (Someshvar Temple)|
|At Mulher Fort|
The Shaky Entrance @ 7 O'clock
The cave at 2 O'clock
The water source at 11 O'clock
|At the top of Mulher Fort|
|Castle GreySkull :p|
The main Entrance of Mora Fort
|Exploring the water tanks!|
|Good for a bath!|
|Towards Nhavi fort|
|Water Cistern at Nhavi|
|Mangi-Tungi as seen from Nhavi|
The fort of Salher was captured by Shivaji in 1671, during his campaign of the Baglan region. This news reached the Mogul emperor in Delhi. He got incensed with this news and said "I have sent lakhs of cavalry but they have come back shamefully, now whom do I send?" The emperor then decided "As long as Shivaji is alive, we are not leaving Delhi". He then called Ikhlaas Khan and Bahlol Khan and sent them with a cavalry of 20,000 horses to attack Salher. Ikhlaas Khan then laid siege of Salher Fort. When this news reached the Maharaj, he sent message to his Commander in Chief Prataprao through his secret agents "Go to Salher with your troops and drive off Bahlol Khan". He also sent a parallel letter to Moropant Peshwa to go from Varghati Konkan along with his troops and meet Prataprao near Salher. As planned, both Prataprao and Moropant rode to Salher from both sides and a fierce battle ensued.
Writings of Sabhasad Bakhar describes it as follows: "There was a fierce battle throughout the day and night, Mughals, Pathans, and Rajput, Cannons, Elephants, Horses and Camel troops fought alongside each other. The battle was so fierce that the dust which was raised by the troops rose up in an area of 3 km and the troops could not recognize who was fighting on which side. The Elephant troops arrived and both sides saw 10,000 troops perish and blood flow like rivers". The Marathas defeated Ikhlaas Khan and Bahlol Khan in this bloody battle, which saw tremendous destruction all over. There were 1,20,000 troops of Raja Shivaji and it returned 10,000 less, lost in battle.
Shivaji’s troops captured 6,000 horses, 6,000 camels, 150 elephants, heavy gold ornaments, gold coins and expensive cloth from the enemy troops. The maratha soldiers showed extreme courage during this battle. Moropant Peshwa and Prataprao Sarnaubat exchanged pleasantries. Suryarao Kakde became a martyr during this battle. He fell after being hit by a cannonball. He was no mere soldier. A soldier who was as brave as "Karna of the Mahabharata" lay dead on the battlefield.
Of all the face to face battles between the Mughals and Shivaji’s troops, the battle of Salher takes first place. Such a big battle was not won before. The bravery and strategy used by the Maratha troops in the battle spread far and wide and increased Shivaji’s fame much higher. After winning Salher, the Marathas also captured Mulher and established their reign over the Baglan region. This battle is looked as a mile stone in esablishing Maratha Empire. After the battle Shivaji became a nightmare for the Shah of Surat.
Post updated on: 13th Jan. 2016 (with inputs from the blog comments and some suggestions from fellow trekkers)
Note: The cost 900 Rs. included healthy Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner everyday, including Kande Pohe, Pulao, Parathe, Sri Khand, Puraan Poli, Sandwich, Tea, Soup, Farsan, Laadoo, Chocolates etc. And yes, Maggi Noodles for 1 dinner. It also included the whole transportation needed for all 8 forts. Its funny how the private groups charge 2800 Rs. for just half of this treks and without exploring the fort fully. If you are on your own, you can camp on top of these forts and can also explore the forts at your own pace. To be frank, you can yourself plan this trek with proper guidance and the cost for exploring all the forts will cost less than 900 Rs. These forts are worth exploring. These forts have rich history to cherish.
Photo Credits: Arjun Patil, Sunil Kamble and the rest belongs to me!