Location and getting there:
There are two ways to get to this place. One through Junnar and the other through Konkan.From Junnar, take a route to Apatale (अपटाले) and then Ghaatghar. It takes nearly one hour from Junnar to reach Ghatghat by your own vehicle. It is advisable to take your own vehicle as the frequency of the state transport may not be very convenient.
Through Konkan, we can reach Vaishakhare (वैशाखरे) via Murbaad (मुरबाड). From Vaishakhare, we can climb Naaneghat to reach Ghatghar.
History of the Jeevdhan Fort
Naane Ghaat was an important trade route of Saatwaahan kingdom (1st century BC to 3rd century AD) based out of Pratishthaan (modern day Paithan in Maharashtra. This route connected the sea ports of Kalyaan and Naalaa Sopaaraa with the kingdom. The caves in the Naaneghat were excavated during this time for the travelers to stay during their travel. One of the caves has inscriptions in Brahmi. This cave had statues of King Seemuk, Kumar Shaktishree Saatkarni, Naagnika, Praankarya - Naagnika's father, Skandashree - Son of Kumar and Naagnika. As of today, the statues are not present. Only feet remain. Hence we could not guess how these figures could have been. From the Brahmi inscriptions in the cave, we know that the King had performed various Yadnyas - Ashwamedh (अश्वमेध), Raajsooya (राजसूय), Anarambhaniya (अनारम्भनिया), Atiratra (अतिरात्र), Gargatiraatra (गर्गातिरात्र)and donated large sums of money.
Jeevdhan fort stood as a guard fort of such important pass. Hence this fort has long history. Although nothing much is recorded. All that we know is that it was under possession of the Mughals, Adilshah. It was the Peshwas who surrendered the fort to the British in 1818. After conquering the fort, the British blasted the access to the fort and made it inaccessible. In fact the Western entrance is almost buried.
11:15 PM Started from Pune
We started from Pune by a private bus. Relying on State Transport is time consuming. And there are several problems for the organizers. Although this incurs some costs, time management and comfort can be achieved by private transport. Along the route, sometime, we stopped at Junnar for nearly 10-15 minutes. In another one hour, we reached the village Ghaatghar. It was pitch dark. There were clouds. The entire village must have been fast asleep. Dogs started barking in the otherwise silent night. We located one Hanumaan temple. During trekking, temples provide one important place to stay overnight. Most of us could sleep in the temple. A couple of us had to sleep outside. Since it was cloudy and humid, outside must have been a better option. By 2:00 AM we must have slept.
6:00 AM Wakeup Call
When we are sleeping inside a temple, we must remember of a couple of things:
- Keep the shoes outside the temple. This is to respect our own and villagers' conscience and maintain dignity of the sanctum. If not followed, occasionally, villagers may get angry.
- Wake up early before villagers visit the temple.
After attending nature's call and freshening up, we were ready for the next activity. Breakfast. The leaders had carried parathas. Knowing that we had a long way to go, all of us attacked parathas. Then there was a round of tea and cream rolls. The extra luggage was kept inside the bus. The leaders assembled all of us for a round of introduction and instructions. They gave us information about Vandarlingi Re-bolting project and its importance. At last all of us started for the fort.
The village is at 800 meters from the sea level.
7:45 AM Started walking towards the fort
The initial route does not climb much. We almost walk half the length of the fort without too much climb. When we see up, we can see the huge rock walls of the fort - almost hundreds of meters without any slope. I was wondering how do we climb the fort. Will there be any rock patch? Will I be able to climb the patch? etc...
One of the best things at that time was clouds. They shielded us from the heat. And watching their dance made us forget all the problems the world may face. Trekking takes us closer to the nature.
8:30 AM Reached first minor rock patch
Here we sat and enjoyed the majesty of the nature. All the team members gathered and enjoyed the scene. The leaders setup the rope for climbing on the rock patch ahead after climbing a few steps. The rock patch is nearly 5-6 meters high. Once they were ready with the setup, we started to climb the rock patch. From both sides, there are walls. Hence there is no exposure for this rock patch. That made it easy. Even though this is not an easy patch, this is not difficult either. The leaders had tied a rope just in case, someone was not able to reach a hold. Such safety precautions give a lot of comfort. During rains, this patch can prove difficult as none of the holds will be reliable.
Soon all of us climbed the patch and reached a place. Later I read that this was the entrance of the fort. Now hardly we could recognize. A little ahead, there are some water tanks on the left side of the path. The view from the bastion on the right side was amazing. Now we were on the top of the fort. There was fog all around. Visibility was very low. Suddenly it started drizzling.
10:00 AM Reached the cave
10:25 AM Reached Western edge of the fort near Vandarlingi Pinnacle
10:45 AM Western entrance of the fort
12:00 PM Vandarlingi Pinnacle base
1:30 PM Reached a hut for lunch
We traversed back and started to descend. Now there are steps. Suddenly the path enters thick forest cover. In the forest, the re-bolting project team had set up a camp. They had to get the provisions from below. That itself was a daunting task.
Now we were getting hungry. Suddenly we discovered several trees of black berries. They were ripe. All of us ate severals of them. So far away from pollution. We just plucked them and ate as much as we could. I wish I was carrying a huge empty box so that I could have taken them back home.
Soon we reached the hut - the only one on the plains for lunch. The lunch was very simple. Bajra rotis, very simple daal, sabji and rice. It was such a nice meal. No oily stuff. Far away from the commercialization. Simple home made food. We thanked the lady who prepared the food.
2:30 PM Naneghat
3:30 PM Kukadeshwar
After being content with the ancient monument, we headed for another monument of antiquity. Kukadeshwar temple is at the origin of Kukadi river. From Ghatghar, we take a route passing through the base of Chavand fort. This route takes us to Kukadeshwar temple. This is a Shiva temple.
At the moment, the temple is being reconstructed. Each of the stone being replicated. The entire temple has several beautiful carvings. The temple had several carvings. Not sure how long it will take to renovate. I appreciate the efforts. All monuments of antiquity must be renovated at priority. We must not see the heritage that our ancestors left for us crumble in front of our eyes.
7:00 PM Reached Pune
Content with the trip, we started with a heavy heart for Pune. Having our own vehicle helped us. It is very difficult to get any conveyance to Pune on Sunday evening. By 7:00 PM, we were back in Pune.
Thus ended another very good trek. The leaders organized the trek very well. Hats off to them.
We have inherited a rich heritage from our ancestors. It must be respected and preserved. There are several places where due attention must be given otherwise the heritage will be lost forever.
The things that have been disfigured must be restored. Due care must be taken to preserve the objects.
Proper information must be provided at every place. Otherwise people may not know the importance of the place.
Adventure activities must be encouraged so that youngsters can learn to respect the nature.
Accessibility should be improved. Those who really want to be there should be able to reach easily.
Simple houses can serve the best food one can get. No hotel or commercialized entity can offer such food.