Date: December 2016
Best time to visit: Throughout the year (preferably weekdays to avoid crowd)
|Sanjeevani Machi, Rajgad Fort|
From Gunjavane village, there are two trails reaching Rajgad fort. One follows the secret entrance to Padmavati Machi via Chor Darwaza and another trail is via Gunjavane Darwaza. Gunjavane Darwaza route is not very common, is less crowded and considered tough by many websites. The picnic-public usually take the Chor-Darwaza route. Now, we made an on-the-spot decision. We decided to take the Gunjavane Darwaza trail to the fort, as opposed to the usual Chor Darwaza trail, to avoid all the boisterous crowd.
As you know, we are NOT a commercial money-monger group, but on the contrary, we make our own decisions, we plan our own treks, with experience, class and attitude, without causing any harm to nature !!
The route becomes slippery due to the scree (during Summer) and water (during Monsoon). You can also expect the trail to disappear during monsoon due to thick flora.
|Aaditya and Ninad|
|Evening at Rajgad, waiting for Nikhil|
|Appa Parab had visited Rajgad that day|
Padmavati Machi (पद्मावती मची): The secret route from Gunjavane village enters this plateau via Chor-Darwaza. This plateau houses a Padmavati lake, Rameshvar temple (Shivling and idol of Lord Hanuman), Padmavati temple, Tomb of Queen Sai-bai (wife of Ch. Shivaji Maharaj) and many remnants of the Raajwada (राजवाडा). The arch-entrance to Padmavati lake is still standing till this date. It is NOT PERMITTED to swim in the lake. Padmavati temple is also surrounded with handful of water cisterns. Padmavati temple can accommodate about 30 people inside. Other attractions were Amberkhana, another squarish Lake, Pali Darwaza (read further for more information), Storage for arms and ammunition.
|Group photo at the top|
The citadel is the highest point of Rajgad fort. The main entrance of the Citadel was uplifted recently. (The route was even more tough when I was here in 2004 - there were no railings, no chains. This was good back then because it kept away the picnic crowd). The door and its fortifications were given a face-lift, trying to restore the forgotten glory.
The famous Chandrakor lake (चन्द्रकोर तळे) meaning, a lake that resembles the crescent of the Moon, lies further ahead of the entrance, after climbing the series of stairs. The water from this lake is meant for drinking (and it is advised to picnic crowd, not to put your beautiful feet in it). Top has two temples- Goddess Janini Mata (जननी मातेचे मंदिर) and Bramharshi (ब्रम्हर्षी). The name Janini Mata sounded weird because both words, Janini and Mata as the same meaning i.e. Mother. There is a mid-sized cave en-route the Citadel which can be used for pitching a tent. Camping on the top is usually avoided due to strong winds.
Sanjeevani Machi (संजीवनी माची): The double-fold fortification runs along this 2.5 km long plateau. Several secret entrances are built which allows us to come out of the main fortifications. The three-phase construction has a bastions at each end. The famous Aal Darwaza (आळ दरवाजा) can be used to exit Rajgad towards Torna fort along the ridge. The door has collapsed to a great extent (as of 2016). The ridge can be clearly seen from the end of Sanjeevani Machi. We could see Bhutonde (भूतोंडे) village and edge of Bhatghar dam-backwater. We could also spot some Pradakshina people and the villagers helping them with carrying foodstuff.
Note: The name is Aal (आळ दरवाजा) and not Alu (अळू दरवाजा) as everyone calls it. This was clarified to us by the historian Appa Parab (when we went back to the Padmavati temple).
Sanjeevani Machi has series of water tanks, but the potability of that water could not be judged. We spotted some collapsed construction and some short shrubs covering them. The stone blocks can be seen here. For calm and interested trekkers, there is a narrow short-cut route to Suvela machi directly from Sanjeevani Machi. I do not recommend it for new trekkers and picnic crowd.
Suvela Machi (सुवेळा मची): This is yet another three-fold construction along the eastern side of the fort, starting with Duba hill. Compared to Sanjeevani Machi, this Suvela Machi has more tree-cover. Kaleshwar buruj, Nedha, Hasti Prastar are some well known locations on this Machi. Nedha (नेढ) is a naturally formed hole through the mountain. Nedha can be seen on other mountains/forts like Nakhind, Madangad, Gorakshanath (in Manmad region) etc.
Descend via Pali Darwaza: Ninad and me, we decided to descend via Gunjavane darwaza route and Nikhil-Aaditya via Pali Darwaza route (Nikhil had his bike parked in Bhosalewadi and Aadity decided to join him and explore bit of Pali route). The trail to the Pali Darwaza is the easiest and offers the view of Torna fort throughout the trail. The route is also termed as Raajmarg (राजमार्ग ). It is big enough for an full-grown elephant to enter through this route (easily). Some door construction has fallen apart restricting the ability to view the top of the door.