Monday, February 23, 2009

21 to 22-Feb-2009 Vasota Fort (Vyaghragad), and Nageshwar Cave

Vasota fort is a jungle fort situated in Sahyadri ranges. From this fort, one gets beautiful view of the Koyana dam backwaters.

How to reach
Vasota fort can be reached by two approaches.
a) Via Met Indavali
From Satara, take a bus to Bamnoli. This village is situated on the banks of river Koyana. From Bamnoli, one has to take a launch to Met Indavali forest camp. This journey through Koyana backwaters takes nearly one and a half hours. Met Indavali is situated at the base of fort Vasota. It takes nearly two hours from this camp to reach fort Vasota.

b) Via Choravane

From Chiplun, take a bus to village Choravane. Path from village Choravane has a steep ladder in the route. By taking this route, one can first visit Nageshwar cave and then come to Vasota fort.

This area is unbelievably cold during night due to Koyna dam backwaters and thick forest. Hence be prepared.

As per the ancient legend, Sage Agasti, a disciple of Sage Vasishtha came to reside on this hill. He decided to name the place after his Guru. In due course of time, the name evolved into Vasota.

During Shilahara dynasty rule over the area, this fort was named as Vasantgad.

When Shivaji was trapped in Panhalagad, he dispatched a battalion to win this fort. He won the fort on 6-June-1660. In 1706, Tai Telini brought the fort under control. The next year, Peshwa senapati Bapu Gokhale attacked the fort. After 8-10 months of battle, the fort was conquered by him.

6:40 AM Started from Pune
Started little late from Pune. All of us had gathered near Furgusson Collage main gate.

11:30 AM Reached Bamnoli via Satara
Due to less sleep, we fell asleep. We did not realize when Satara passed by. From Satara, Bamnoli is 35 kms approximately. However, all the road is mountainous. Hence the travel takes time. Finally we reached Bamnoli. This village is situated in a valley. The bus descends through the hills.

From Trips - Vasota Nageshwar Feb 09

1:30 AM Boat ride to Met Indavali
From Bamnoli, we took a boat ride to Met Indavali. The boat ride of about 1:30 hours is very beautiful. Hills on one side are covered by thick forest. The expanse of the water is large.

Vasota and Old Vasota forts can be seen when the boat nears Met Indavali. Met Indavali is a forest department camp in the jungle.

Upon our arrival, we had our lunch that we had brought with us.

From Trips - Vasota Nageshwar Feb 09

2:30 PM Start trek to Vasota fort
After lunch, we started the trek to Vasota fort. There is considerable walk before climb starts. All the way is covered with thick forest. Hence sunlight cannot deprive you of your energy. We can hear sounds made by various animals. It is told that the jungle is home to every animal except Elephant and Lion.

From Trips - Vasota Nageshwar Feb 09

From Trips - Vasota Nageshwar Feb 09

4:30 PM Reached fort
Finally we reached the fort. The entrance of the fort is broken. Immediately at the entrance, there is one Hanuman temple.

From Trips - Vasota Nageshwar Feb 09

From Trips - Vasota Nageshwar Feb 09

There are two entrances to the fort. One lies in the dilapidated condition. We enter the fort through the other entrance. As soon as we enter the fort, we see a Hanuman temple devoid of roof. From this place, the route to left goes to Babu Kada and route to the right goes to Shiva temple.

When we take the route to the left towards Babukada, there are two water cisterns (tanks). This is the only source of drinking water.

From Trips - Vasota Nageshwar Feb 09

This road further takes us to Babu Kada. From this point, Old Vasota is seen in front. The fort has steep cliffs and is difficult to climb. These days, nobody dares to go to old vasota.

From Trips - Vasota Nageshwar Feb 09

From Babu Kada, again come back to Hanuman Temple. Proceed straight. We come to a Shiva temple. From this place, we proceed to an extended plateau. Nageshwar caves can be seen in the distance.

From Trips - Vasota Nageshwar Feb 09

From Trips - Vasota Nageshwar Feb 09

The view of Koyna backwaters is breathtaking from top of the fort.

5:30 PM Started descent
We started to descend as we were instructed to be back in the camp before twilight. Since there the area is declared as a reserved forest, we had to rush back to the camp before darkness. The forest department rules mandate so.

7:15 PM Reached camp at Met Indavali
By the time we reached the base camp at Met Indavali, it was almost dark.

9:00 PM Dinner
Sridhar Joshi sir had stayed back at the camp. He had prepared tea and dinner for all of us. After the trek, all of us were hungry. We attacked the dinner.

10:00 PM Astronomy
Post dinner, Sushrut Bhanushali took our astronomy class. He taught us how to find out North direction. He explained all visible constellations to us. By 10:30 we were in bed.

7:45 AM Start trek to Nageshwar cave
The next day morning, we were late to start from the camp. We had our breakfast. This time we took different route than yesterday. We started walking in a dry stream upwards. The entire walk was very beautiful. Trees were covered all around. Hence there was shade across all the path except at the upper part. But the walk was difficult because of the stones on the bed.

From Trips - Vasota Nageshwar Feb 09

At the end of the stream, there is some steep climb. This climb took us directly at the base of the cave.

11:00 AM Reached Nageshwar cave
From here, we climbed Nageshwar cave. This is a Shiva temple. The next day was supposed to be Maha Shivratri. On this occasion, several thousands of devotees were expected to be in the cave.

From Trips - Vasota Nageshwar Feb 09

11:30 AM Start descending
We started to descend by the other route. For nearly one and half hours, the trek is almost horizontal. It takes us over a cliff. There are not many trees. If the sun is shining bright, then this portion might be difficult. Morever, there are no railings even though the ground is slippery.

We learned that during rainy season, there are lot of jalwa leeches - which sucks one's blood.

1:00 PM Reached Vasota trek
Finally, the trek merges with the trek to Vasota fort. Now again we were in the shades of the trees.

2:15 PM Reached base camp at Met Indavali
We reached the base camp of Met Indavali. We had our lunch hurriedly.

3:10 PM Start for Bamnoli
Immediately, after having lunch, we started for Bamnoli in the launch.

4:45 PM Reached Bamnoli
We reached Bamnoli through scenic Koyna backwaters.

5:45 PM Started for Pune
From Bamnoli, we started for Pune.

9:30 PM Reached Pune
By 9:30 PM, we were back in Pune via Satara.

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