Sooo please believe me when I say that I’ve never visited Torna fort/killa/Gad before. Well, reactions run from, vedies ka tu ? ( Are you mad ? ) to kahikay ! ( Are you kidding me ? ) and Awra!!!! (Sorry ! This, I can’t explain, you’ll have to be a punekar I’m afraid 😛 )
Now I can say with conviction why its called such a splendid fort. You have to see it to believe the topography of the fort. Its the highest fort in Pune, about 4603 ft above the sea level. And the construction is cone shaped, narrow at the top and then the maachi’s spread out like wings to either sides.
The structure is very sturdy, the climb has no proper steps but is a steep incline, not as much as tel-baila or lingana, but almost. There are railings fixed on either side, halfway from the cricket pitch area aka the flat land you see below. Rest of the trail is a mixture of normal road, rock patches, and more slippery rock patches.
But as the saying goes, you plan for Goa the most and its the most cancelled out destination. Something similar happens when I plan for treks. Its like, a perpetual cycle. Holiday – ask friends – available/not available – available – but on odd days – I don’t have a holiday – no energy – some stupid thing comes up – and the list is endless.
But for the longest time, as with everything else I crave for, I’ve just heard and heard people raving around how awesome the trek Torna-Raigad is. For die hard trekkers or fans of history, these forts in Sahyadri are a bliss. Cloud 9 straight. There is a vast repository of Maratha Era history, exemplary contribution and effort by Shivaji Maharaj to expand the maratha empire and the fight for complete freedom or ‘Swarajya’ from the Mughals.
The trek was eventful as always. As always, I wanted to grab the opportunity to visit Torna, and as soon as a friend suggested that he was up for it, I forgot all about resting at home on the weekend and just went for it. I am always up for challenging myself, physically and mentally, and what other way than summit-ting a much loved, much exciting fort ?
As a lover of history, I am naturally interested towards knowing more about Shivaji Maharaj and how this fort came out to be. But with no proper resource person, it all was left to just amusement and wonder as I thought of what was the actual story behind this ‘prachandagad’.
Before it was known by that name, and at the tender age of 16, YES 16, Shivaji Maharaj captured the fort in the year 1643, 376 years to be precise !!!
It is situated approximately 50 kms from Pune and the base is Velhe village. You can summit it in under 3 hours, if the path is not crowded and its not raining cats and dogs. We were fortunate in both, neither we had torrid rains, nor we encountered any serious pace slowing traffic.
For overnight stay enthusiasts like us, there is an ancient but sturdy temple, the Menghai Mata temple. Other important things as must see are Budhla Machi, Zunjar Machi, Kothi Darwaja, Kokan darwaja, Bini Darwaja, Sadar, Toranjai Goddess temple etc etc. This fort is now a heritage site. An old couple has made a makeshift hut next to the Menghai temple where they serve hot Maggie, Tea, Pithla-Bhakri, Pohe and Kanda Bhajjis. What else do you need ? 😀
Oh and also, the complete and utter silence once up at the top coupled with the clouds descending upon us.
Imagine the scene ! I do get all excited like a child whenever describing my travel tales to anybody who would listen. Even if it bores them, even if its a usual destination like this one.
You can stay overnight or else do it in one day too. Make sure you have a sleeping bag/carry mat and a proper blanket to cover up. Because it does get very windy and cold even if you are staying inside the temple.
All in all, happy trekking !! 🙂