Dadar - Shirdi - Ankai - Tankai - Gorakshnath - Manmad - Dadar
Per-head cost: 500 Rs. (Dadar to Dadar)
Fort type: Mountain fortress (गिरीदुर्ग)
About the group: Aaditya and Abhash were already waiting at Dadar station. But about Ninad, I can write a whole book on how we had to persuade him to join the trek. But finally he made it, and thats what counts. Bhavesh, Suresh, Milind, Niket were going to be with us till Shirdi.
One thing was common though and it happens outside almost all famous temples. We got tricked into buying the prasad from the nearby shop where we kept our bags. भगवान के नाम से blackmail किया हमे. म्हणे, "थाळी घ्या नाहीतर तुमची पुढची कामे नाही होणार". विचार केला, आलोच आहोत इतक्या दूर तर घेऊयाच प्रसाद. पुढे ट्रेक पण करायचाय. We kept our heavy luggage with them but not our phones and stuff. There was another place nearby the entrance which was meant for keeping such things. There was a huge but well-organized line for Sai baba darshan. The queue proceeded slowly an we killed the time chatting, chanting shlokas etc. After the visit we went to the prasad bhojan hall, which is a short walk away from main temple area. The food was good and served as a perfect diet which was very much needed for the long trek ahead.
|The SH10 highway is seen dodging the mountains|
|Flat-land extending to south|
Ankai, Tankai, Gorakshnath and a series of mountains are part of Satmala range extending from west to east. The pinnacle- Hadbi-chi-shendi (हड्बी ची शेंडी) or Khada Parsi (खडा पारसी) is an amazing place for rock-climbing. A decade before, there was no highway to reach these mountains and pinnacles and one had to walk all the way from Manmad to reach Hadbi-chi-shendi (Info. provided by my father). The highway doesn't destroy any part of the monuments, it looks like it, and it perfectly dodges the surrounding mountains. I must say, this highway looks truly marvelous from the western end of Ankai fort (from the top).
|Making our way through the corn-fields to Ankai|
|Some of the rock-cut caves and temples|
|Remains of a temple|
The well maintained steps will take you from the start to the col where the two forts (plateau) are dissected. On the way there are a series of rock-cut caves (लेण्या) belonging to the Jain period (Source: Internet). They are located at the base of Tankai fort, and can be seen after the start of the trek before the col. There was a peculiar silence all along the trail till the top. The swallows, dove, bulbuls, magpies broke the silence at several times. We couldn't see any monkeys though. I thought it was past their office time.
|Ankai from Tankai|
|Shiva temple on top of Tankai fort|
|Ankai: As seen from the top of Tankai fort|
|Khada parsi or Hadbi-chi-shendi|
|Silhouette of Gorakshnath and others|
|Aaditya taking out some water from the rock-cut tanks|
|Nandi outside Agasthi aashram|
|Dont harm them they wont harm you|
|To Gorakshnath fort|
|The rock-patch. The temple can be seen in the background.|
|Ankai and part of Tankai as seen while climbing Gorakshnath|
|One of the water tanks before the final cave|
|The four of us at the final cave|
Some additional info:
Ankai fort height is 3170 ft.
Tankai fort height is 2818 ft.
Gorakshnath height is (डोंगर-तिर्थक्षेत्र) 3052 ft.
These three mountains, along with other mountains in this range can be trekked in 2 full days. Ankai-Tankai can be done in one day itself.