A Getaway Trek to Harihar Fort

Trekking season is coming to an end, hot sunny days are here. But you don’t want to give it up because you have now fallen into love with the treks. Exploring those twisting, curving and unknown paths have become part of your life. Then what do you do? Well technically 2 options are available trekking in night; or early morning. Sahyadri ranges in Maharashtra consist of more than 500 forts. What a kingdom it must have looked when these forts would have been in great conditions, structurally proper. Sadly most of them are dilapidated now.

Some are difficult to climb and some are easy. One such fort is Harihar fort, Built near Nasik region of Maharashtra, the fort used to be watch tower for neighbourhood areas. Easy and rich in nature trek is Harihar fort; Small Steps Adventures had arranged it on 20th march 2016.

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Harihar Fort

 

Start of Journey

We started on 19th night, 11:00 pm kasara train from CST which reached to kasara at around 1.30 am.

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Train Journeys are ice breakers

 

 

 

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Journeys are starters of getting introduced

3 trax from kasara to the base village of Harihar were arranged. It was a journey of about 2 hrs. The journey in trax with songs takes you to another world.

Reaching the base village we rested for a while in school till the dawn broke. It was a starry sky with millions of them visible, gazing them we awaited for a dawn. A walk down the road gazing the stars is not a leisure that can be enjoyed everyday.  As the morning light broke, the brightness from the mountains arrived on the earth, we packed our bags, and got ready for the trek.  Walking through the small village and filling our bottles with water from the well; our ascend started.

Ascend to the fort

The huge rock structure of fort can be seen during ascend, It stretches horizontally curving on the edges. Ascending on treks in early morning is always a pleasure. The early sun rays illuminating the earth with golden light reflecting on us through trees and rocks, how calm; how peaceful and what different feeling than an early morning of metro urban cities. World is simple here.

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Below the fort we capture our image; for the journey unravels ahead

Nature never let us miss the scope of capturing the moments of its existence, Treks like these converge the nature which exists timeless with the technological advances of humankind, well  heavy the sentence may sound but I am talking of camera. Capturing such moments into that box is just making these moments memorable.

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Selfie captured.

So the clicking starts.

We reach a plateau which is at the middle of base and top of the fort.

The fort is actually built on this plateau. The fort from this point looks like a giant rook, placed on the chess board of earth, standing heavy, balanced, and guarding its kingdom. From here one has to start climbing rocks, which is quite easy, but always precaution is insisted.

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Reaching the plateau below the fort.
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Here we are, capture us.
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Through the lens into the screen

 

The tricky steps

After few climb, there are narrow steps carved on a quite vertical surface of rock.

 

 

 

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A Rook stands tall as a castle to guard.

 

Climbing the steps we reached the door of the fort. The door is coloured saffron, which looks quite distinguished in dark coloured rocks of the fort. Walking through the door, we moved forward, into a tunnel which needs to climb across and Zig- Zag, to reach a plateau of fort. Here several ponds of water can be found. Most of them were dry because of summer season.

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The twisty stairs
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From the wall of saffron door

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up ahead in the distance saffron flag of Maratha Empire stands tall and unfurled, flying high. To reach there one has to climb further. Climbing is little tricky because of slippery soil and then a rock patch. It can be climbed from 2 sides one is quite easy and simple another needs a little use of technique.

 

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On the top Flag unfurling behind us

Climbing this we reached the top of the fort, the peak. The top is like a table flat, and in centre a flag is unfurling. What happens when you reach the top of something? Wonderment in mind then coming back to senses, one wants it to be captured so lots of clicks, a look around from the top down the hill into the nature.

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View from the top
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Panoramic Nature

 

 

 

 

 

Descending the fort

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It has journeyed with me. Personified it may tell great tales.

 

Spending some time here we climbed down to plateau near the dry pond. We had trekked fast, starting at 6.00 am it was just 9.30 am.

Rested their for a while, with some yummy breakfast of bread, butter jam, mayonnaise sauce and peanut butter, with khakras and biscuits, a wonder treat in wonderful nature. The descend was also quite simple, same route as we ascended, we carried out another activity of cleaning the fort, collecting dumped bottles and plastic wrappers, an initiative by Small Steps Adventures. The sun was now shining bright. The heat could be felt now, caps and glares, and a quiet descend. We reached back to base village at around 12 pm.  Everyone was little tired and exhausted. Perfect time for lunch. Thepla and pickle what else does one need in life.

Back Journey with halt at Trimbekashwar

Immediately after the lunch we packed our bags and sat in our respective Trax for a destination to Trimbekashwar. From Trimbekashwar back to kasara and from kasara; train journey to Thane. Well exhausted from the happening day everyone slept in train. On Thane station we bid adieu to each other leaving behind an memorable experience for lifetime.

Trekking moments are inexplicable; every moment can be cherished throughout our life. These become tales to be told. These moments form lifetime friendships and relationships. Pulling legs and having fun is part and parcel of treks at least with SSA, the innocence of it forges great bonds that are stronger than before. Treks like these make you feel that you have known these people from many years even though you have just met them. Trekking is great activity, it is one of those things where body and mind are completely synchronized, a complete balance. Makes one mentally and physically refreshed.

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Captured trekking moment

 

Technical Details:

Harihar Fort: Watch tower on the route of Maharashtra to Gujarat during Maratha Empire
Height: Around 3700 ft.
Base village: Nirugpada
Travel: From Mumbai reach Kasara via Local Train; From Kasara travel towards Base village                via available trax.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trekking Down the Valley of Sandhan

Some treks are adventurous, some are thrilling, some terrific and some are tough; but some treks are just enjoyable, it has got a mixture of adventure, thrill and largest share is taken by fun. In this rapid way of living, where is the time to stop and have senseless conversation, that don’t mean anything or where is the time to sit down and argue on your favourite topic, where is the time to sit with your loved one and gaze the stars above endlessly, timelessly, infinitely? On such treks like Sandhan Valley, where the ever distracting technology is not with you, where one is not constantly swiping through cell phones to get latest updates on messages and mails; or where one is not constantly bombarded with unnecessary questions. Finally Small Steps Adventures had organized this famous trek of Sandhan.
 
Start of Journey

Train Journey till Kasara

The journey to Sandhan started with the train from CST to kasara. People boarded the train from respective stations and we gathered all into first boogie of train. We reached kasara at around 1.30 am.

From kasara 3 trax were booked which took us to base village. We were around 30 people.
Reached the base village at 4.30 am, rested for a while and at 6 am, refreshed ourselves; and were served with delicious breakfast of  ‘kande pohe and tea.’ A little introductory session and we were set to start the trek.

Introduction Sesssion

Trekking through the Valley


Outskirts of Sandhan Valley

We moved forward towards the valley. Sandhan is a great combination of canyon and valley. There are 300 feet rock walls on both sides. Once started with descend one could literally feel moving through mystic environment. Rocks on all sides, walking on stones and rocks, walls of carved rocks. The valley is deep enough for not reaching the strong sun light, which is a pleasure. Walking in shadows provide a cool climate. We were divided into 3 groups. Every group had a leader, The first group was led by Shreeharsha, The Second was led by Sushant and Sagar was leading the last group at the back. Chaitrali and me were connecting the groups and gaps.


The Valley Starts














Our Journey Begins

Walking further we could see many pools of water formed. Fishes are also present in them. After sometime we reached a spot where there was water till waist length and the rock walls were very close to each other forming a narrow gap. We pulled our track pants up, took our bags on head and walked through it. The water was icy cold. It literally was freezing. After crossing this we had to walk further straight.

Pools of Water

















Water till waist length

Just walking in the valley is a diverse experience. Long ahead one could see the opening of the valley and besides there were natural carvings formed on the wall.
Sometimes I feel reality is an amazing experience. Well places like these are heaven for photographers and platform for people who like to get photographed. Every 5 min of walk and we all clicked pictures. As now-a- days people are obsessed with their display pics, everyone was choosing the spots to get clicked and upload. Here our photographer of Small steps has to be patient and click pictures that would satisfy everyone and also satisfy him.


Photography By Sumit into the Valley

Descending further in the Valley


We had walked nearly for 4 hours, now further descend started. Here the rock patches were tricky. One had to look carefully and step down. We were approaching the first rappelling patch. We had to cross 3 rappelling spots to reach camping site. The descend was pleasant change from just walking between the rock walls. Although just walking down them interacting with one another, having fun, didn’t realize how much time had passed.  Rock walls now had widened the gap and it was sort of opening.

Opening of Rock Walls.












Our Photographer has finally got his own pic













The 3 Rappelling Spots

 
We reached the first rappelling spot at about 12.30 pm. It was 60 to 70 feet rappelling. The equipment was carried by the villagers who had lead us in the trek.  Rappelling at this spot needed harness, carabineer and figure of 8 to be worn, in addition to gloves and helmet. For many of us who had trekked with small steps rappelling has become usual business now. Although there is a little flutter in stomach every time I start going down backwards but, it goes away quickly. We rappelled respectively as our groups reached the spot. I was present in the group which rappelled first. We descended and awaited for others to join us, until then we had lunch bhakri and sabji. Now the adventurous part of trek had started.

Rappelling 1st Spot.

 

Rappelling with Equipment.

As we moved further we had to descend through rocks carefully taking grip sometimes; or just sliding through them. At some places water was percolating from rocks. The cold water satisfied our thirst.

Pool of water.








Tricky Rocks.

Ponds of water with fishes in them could be seen frequently. There was one spot where we had to enter through a small hole in the rock, and then slide down further. It was kind of some ride.

The rock says enter through me and I’ll show you the way

 

Entering through small tunnel.

The second rappelling spot was small in height. Rappelling by the rope was not actually required here.  But for safety rope was tied, no equipment. The height was about 10 feet. But there were no crevices to take grip hence we had to leave our legs freely in the air and completely take grip of rope and push ourselves down. Also as it was a narrow spot. Bags were passed down directly.

2nd Rappelling Patch

A narrow stream of water was flowing here; we refreshed ourselves from dirt and sweat trekking for almost 6 hours now. Rested for a while and moved forward to the 3rd rappelling patch.The 3rd rappelling patch was moderate it wasn’t high as first also not as simple as 2nd. Rope was definitely required but no equipment. It was around 20 to 30 feet. With rocks cut in between.

3rd Rappelling Patch

Thus the 3 rappelling patches were completed, now the camp-site was not far away. Half an hour of walk further and we reached a beautiful plateau, situated exactly in the center of hills. A stream of water was flowing down the rock and into the pond situated down the plateau, into the rocks. It was not approachable. We had carried tents with us, and started pitching on good spots before other groups could reach.

 Camping at a Plateau in Sandhan.
 
Tents were pitched, mats were rolled off, bags, luggage was gathered aside, twilight in the sky and we all rested for a while.  After the rest, tea was served by villagers, and people took out the food they had brought for the trek. What a wonderful feeling it is to sip the tea during the saffron light of evening.

Sunset at Camping Site.












Just Sitting in Twilight.














It was becoming dark, we all had engaged ourselves in fun conversations pulling each other’s legs and making fun of each other. As we sat around hearing each other’s experiences of treks, of their professional and personal lives, etc. dinner was ready; again prepared by villagers. Chapati, aloo sabji, dal and rice are perfect meal after exertion of trek.

Clear Sky Crescent Moon.

 




Pleasant climate for camping

After the meal, the favourite game antakshri was initiated by trek leaders. The game was fun. Variety and diverse songs were sung. The sound was echoing in the valley. The other groups also replicated us after some time.  There were many funny moments while the game was being played, as some moments are inexplicable in the blogs, those are situation based. Soon the game turned into just singing random songs instead of teams playing antakshri. We all were singing till midnight loudly, so much that some songs got once more from other groups.  The voice was getting echoed in the valley.

 At almost 1’0 clock we stopped singing and decided to sleep for a while as next day we had to descend to base village. So most of us slept outside tent as it wasn’t that cold. But what a starry night it was. Now- a-days due to pollution one can hardly even see a polestar.Places like these away from cities, in the valleys and mountains, the sky is clear with millions of stars visible. We could actually even spot the satellites encircling.

Gazing into the starry sky
Of infinite universe
The night descended on us
Through the mountains
And darkened the valley
Brought peaceful sleep in our eyes
that carried our dreams.

Descend from Sandhan
Wakeup call at 5.30 and the dreams broke into the sunrise. The light was spreading, as we got up, and engaged ourselves in morning activities. Got refreshed and breakfast was served. A hot Maggie and tea , perfect breakfast for descend.

Maggie Breakfast

Packed the tents, packed the bags and ready for few clicks; which eventually turned into many because people were still in the mood of enjoyment.

 Small Steps had carried out a wonderful gesture, while trekking we had collected all the waste and the plastic bottles into trash bags to clean the valley. While descending there were many trash bags, that need to be carried, everyone helped.

Cleaning the Valley

Descend was not that difficult, again we created 3 groups to descend. Ours was in middle this time. All the groups were coincidently were playing songs on speakers, and each group of different themes. Ours was party theme “mahol” we call it in hindi or Marathi. No silent songs in our speakers.


Descending easily.













Creating Mahol.

Walking through jungle was fun. Variety of trees with different fruits and flowers on them; just makes a realize importance of bio diversity in trees.

Captured the flower
Path of Jungle and Trail of Water.
 Finally we reached the base village and rested there for a while, had tea and Parle G biscuit.

Sunny Day, returning to base village


The return journey began through trax till Asangaon station. Everyone boarded the train and got down at respective station, now what resides are memories and photographs of the wonderful journey. 
It’s been many years now that I am trekking. Every trek gives me a different experience. Every trek I meet new people, new faces. The world is a big place, every new person I meet teaches me something different than before, gives me a different experience. This trek as said earlier was most enjoyable. Many people I knew because I had trekked with them, but the bond that was formed in this trek has emerged stronger. It’s like being in friendship for many years. 2 days of trek, and friends for lifetime. Thus these adventurous activities have got their own significance, especially in today’s world that has dark corners on every turn and enmity on every road.

Small Steps Adventures
It is a group founded by Sagar, Yogi, Sushant, Ravi, Prashant and Rashmi. The small steps adventures is a group, that take people on adventurous expeditions. The purpose of such expeditions is to spend a little time away from our busy life into peaceful and calm nature, where people from different walks of life join you, and one can make new relations.

 
Technical Details

Sandhan Valley: In Nagar District, Approximately 70-90Km from Kasara.
Base Village: Samrad
Transport: For Mumbai, Train till Kasara, and further Private vehicle, For Pune Private Vehicle preferred till Base village, or till Mumbai and then further.
Descend Base Village: Dehane and reach Asangaon by trax or private vehicle about 1 to 1 and ½ hours.