A trek after a long time, to take a break from the routine is the best way you can possibly cut the chaos. So on 05th June 2016 midnight 00:00 am I along with 8 other mates left for a night trek to Sarasgad near Pali, Ballallehwar temple which is about 10 min walking distance from the base of the Sarasgad fort.
At 00:00am sharp me, Siddhesh, Chetan, Girish, Chaitanya & Dharmesh packed our bags in the vehicle & left for Mcdonalds near CST station to pick up Priya & Anangha. Priya had already reached the pickup point early so she put a message on the group, but there was no sign of Anagha. We reached CST@ 12:20am, 5 min. late then scheduled, Priya quickly jumped in the car & then we started calling Anagha, she was not reachable, her cell phone was switched off, we tried for almost 15 min to contact her but was of no use so assuming that she might have slept, we left CST hoping that she might call back. Dharmesh stepped on the pedal as we had to more people to be picked up from Dadar. Reached Dadar at 12:45am and the last 2 members of our gang Winnie & Ashish hopped in. Immediately the journey began heading straight towards Pali. Took one tea halt near Vadkal Naka and resume. After crossing about 10km after Vadkal and we had a new company to join us…….. RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN started off as a light drizzle only to grow into a thunderstorm, it was welcoming & soothing. The lightning in the sky every 0.01 second, the heavy downpour which limited the visibility to less than 10ft & music inside the car by our DJ Chaitanya made the journey even more joyful.
The journey is still on…….., so just thought of giving you some details about Sarasgad Fort & it’s surrounding. Sarasgad Fort doesn’t have much of documentary evidence about its history, but it hold a lot of importance strategically as it was a fortress to watch over Pali and surrounding area, as it is around 20 km away from Sudhagad Fort which was once considered to be made the Capital of Maratha Empire. Hence it is important in its on significant way, which is supported by the fact the Shivaji Maharaj spent 2000 hones (currency of that time) just to reconstruct this fort. It can be seen from the roadway which passes right through the Pali City, and can be identified easily.
The Night Trek:
Finally we reached the base village of Sarasgad Fort. Everybody started gearing up for the trek, wearing shoes, checking torch lights, water available etc. Started the trek at 04:30am sharp, we wanted to reach to the top before 06:00 am, to capture sunrise which was scheduled for 06:07am. So the speed was high, line up was me followed by Winnie & Ashish then Priya followed by 3 boys and backed up by Chaitanya.
After the first 5 min we started gaining height, the climb was steep through bushes and shrubs, but the route was pretty clear with markings at regular intervals. I, Winnie & Ashish were travelling a lot faster than the others, so had to keep a regular check on the guys. Chaitanya and Priya needed rest so we took the first halt after only 15 min. of climb. After drinking water, we quickly resumed, had chances of shower, and so had to rush. After climbing and waiting, for about 45 min. we reached the rock patch, the rock was a bit slippery due to the rains, so proved to be a bit scary and problematic. None the less everybody somehow managed to climb the patch by each other’s help. We reached the caves near the steps to the”Dindi Darwaja”. Took some rest and drank water and early morning for started covering the whole fort from all the side, we could see it coming from a far distance and within seconds it was all around us.
Everybody was asking me 1 common question, i.e. “Niche jaane ke liye koi aur rasta nahi hain kya?” (Isn’t there any other route to descend from here?). I smiled and politely replied “NO”
After gathering their wits we approached the steps that lead us to the main entrance of the fort, 2ft in height, 2ft. in breadth & 4ft in length, these are by far the biggest rock cut steps in Sahyadris, though some steps are broken and you have space to put just foot on it, they take their toll on your legs while climbing and give you a chill in the spine while descending.
We crossed the main entrance and the sky had already started to brighten up with light, so there was a sense of hurry to spot the rising sun from the top. I, Winnie, Ashish, Siddhesh & Chetan was one team who started rushing towards the top, crossing all the caves and climbing a small rock patch at the end to reach the summit. Chaitanya, Priya, Girish & Dharmesh were tired to the core and were coming slowly. So I came back to the team lagging behind, much to my surprise they were nowhere to be seen. The first team was safely sitting at the summit, but the Chaitnya & co. were missing. I came down all the way where I had last spotted them, then it clicked that they might have taken the route to the right which goes around the pinnacle and joins at the last rock patch.
So I quickly rushed back to the base of the rock patch and with next 2 minutes they appeared from the route which I thought they would have, after discussing what happened and laughing over it the we all made it to the summit where others were waiting as they could not see sunrise due to extreme cloud cover.
After exploring the top, the Shiva temple, the dargah, the completely dried out lake, enjoying the view of Tail Baila and having some snacks. We started descending. The descend was also as eventful as the ascend, both the girls choose to slide down all the way, Dharmesh also joined them, slipping, talking, jumping , running, laughing finally we made it to the base in 1 hour. We freshened up, had breakfast, visited the Ballaleshwar temple & started off on our return journey.
Reached Mumbai at around 01:45 pm as planned.
Overall a beautiful experience as trekking always is…….