Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Another Attempt to Build on Pune's Hills..

Please take a moment to Read this. I wouldn't be mailing if this wasn't serious.
Eight long years go..  In January 2003, articles started appearing in papers about the Government's plan to Allow construction on the Hills of Pune. This wasn't the first time that the very Identity of Pune, Its Hills - the Lungs of the city had been threatened. But this time the very idea that all the Hills around Pune - the only haven from the concrete jungle that Pune was becoming would now be engulfed by construction sent a shiver through our young minds.

Just out of our Junior college, freshly optimistic about everything - our group of friends had started some work at the Law College Hill with the intention to green the barren slopes of Hills in & around Pune.  We were practically kids then. And this was a kids innocent idea that all the Hills around Pune should be covered with Lush forests. A future with Pune covered in concrete was not something that appealed to us and so we decided to do something about it.. As simple as that..

This news about the Government's decision came as a rude shock to us. And with that began a Mass movement starting with an Email campaign that reached over 18000 people across the globe. Soon this Green fire spread to the roads,streets, schools, colleges, offices.. All the NGOs, individuals came together &  and finally more than 90,000 people of Pune registered their protests against this Development.

The Movement was a great success and the government deciding to listen to the People's voice, Passed a Green Development plan where Pune was destined to get a Biodiversity Park on its Hills. It was a great moment for all those involved. It had a great impact on our young minds. We, in our own city were able to be agents on change and could actually experience democracy at work.

Another Attempt to Kill the Hills !

Now our CM Mr. Chavan has sparked the fire once again threatening once again to concretize Pune's Hills. Reasons given are to the effect that the Government is incapable of Preventing Slums from springing up in these areas and the that the funds needed for this are too high. Most of the Political parties are doing their usual See Saw in opinions and are at this point supporting the 4% construction.

The same politicians that took advantage of the strong support to the Green movement 8 years ago and used the platform to make their speeches are now talking a different language. There are exceptions to this and without taking names on either side, we have utmost respect for the people who have stood their grounds.

Politicians will be politicians and you cant expect anything from them unless it means a vote. So its time once again for us .. as common citizens of Pune to take up the cause. This is our City and we have to Live here . Our children have to live here. Will you just stand back and watch a few People with tons of money and vested interests make a mess out of our City ? Wake up people and smell the Coffee .. or should i rather say the Smoke ?

A Government or rather series of governments that have shown superb consistency in their ineptitude in being able to tackle the cities problems are now threatening to take away our identity. Our Tekdi's.. our Hills. Wake up people and Join us as we try to save our Cities future.. For Us, For you and For the generations to come.

Even a child understands this. Will someone make our Politicians listen up ? Here i produce a poem written by a 4th Standard student during the first DP campaign.

A poem inspired by the "Deadly Plan" DP which threatens to destroy Pune's ecology.

Save the hills

The municipal corporation, you better watch out!
And let your hopes not mount.
We want the hills as they are,
Not filled with brick cement and tar!

To crowd the hils don't you dare,
Cause that will be more than we can bear.
Don't you slash at any tree,
And don't you dare disagree.

We want the hills, we want the trees,
And to sway around them a gentle breeze.
We want you to understand our cause,
And leave each hill as it was.

Mukta Patil,  STD VI, Gurukul.

We are not asking you to do any Social Work people.. Do it.. For yourself..
How can you Help Save the Hills ?
    • Help the Email Chain. Forward this to everyone you can. Even Spam might be worth it
    • Sign the Online Petition
    • Join the Online Cause
    • Promote this on Social Networks and help make people aware about the Dire situation
    • Join the Citizens' Rally on the 26th of November ( Details below)
    • Download and Print this Objection Form and Collect Signatures from people you know Offline

Date: Saturday 26th November
Time: 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Place to gather: Outside the Fergusson College Main Gate. From here the Rally will move (walk/cycle) to Sambhaji Park via Goodluck Chowk and JM Road

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Twitter Archive : #parthswedding

Finally managed to retrieve the tweets I had done before & after my Wedding (Jun 16, 2009) . My Wife still curses me for tweeting during the ceremonies .. But i feel it was worth it !

I wasn't able to retrieve these for a long time.. I felt they were completely lost .. Was planning to use the API to get them.. but then i was able to get them using the All My Tweets app..

So i felt i will archive them here as you never know when twitter might decide to close access to them ! Read them in the reverse order.

  • btw i am back from my Honeymoon . startign to get functionally useful Jul 06, 2009 
  • @GauravSaha i was hoping #parthswedding would be a twitter first :) i deff enjoyed it a lot managed to get in quite a few tweets Jun 29, 2009 
  • Finally back at Pune :) ! Jun 29, 2009 
  • Played cards in the Spice jet plane as flight delayed by over 3 hrs. Wanna join the #Spicejet cards club? Jun 28, 2009 
  • Suffering from LAS. Low altitude sickness. Jst landed at Delhi.11500 2 750ft in 1hr Jun 28, 2009 
  • twitting from Leh...Landed at Asia's highes Airport today at 11500 ft Jun 20, 2009 
  • #parthswedding. 100% Adiu bachelors Jun 16, 2009 
  • #parthswedding. 99% 12 mins to go Jun 16, 2009 
  • #parthswedding. 75% done. Kanyadan(giving away),suryadarshan,3 pheras of the 7. Upcoming - rukhwat food,final stuff at 11 14 Jun 16, 2009 
  • #parthswedding. An i supposed to freak out ? Not feeling anything yet though. Jun 16, 2009 
  • #parthswedding :( now who told her about it ? Things starting to get marraigish. Not delimi anything yet though. Jun 16, 2009 
  • #parthswedding jst 1 hr lft. Jun 16, 2009 
  • Good morning. Wedding stuff starts in a couple of hours. Jun 16, 2009 
  • Waiting for the car to come to pick us up to go to the marraige hall. Jun 15, 2009 
  • #parthswedding trying to size up the enormity of the situation.. the last 18 hours of my life as a bachelor. Jun 15, 2009 
  • @ahujaankit Thanks ! Jun 15, 2009 

  • RT: @coolparth: #parthswedding Getting ready to go to the wedding hall.. Seemant poojan today Jun 15, 2009 
  • #parthswedding Day1 : Grahmukh .. just came out of a ceremony called as grahmukh. Wedding ceremonies start. gonna blog about it Jun 13, 2009 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Grilled Veggies

Made some simple grilled vegetables today. You can make these on an electric grill or use a barbeque or just toss them on a tava.  Each method can add a taste of its own.

What vegetables ?
I used small potatoes, capsicum, cottage cheese(paneer), tomatoes, onion, cauliflower florets, baby corn.

The Marinade
Ginger garlic paste, turmeric, chili powder, garam masala, rock salt and black salt, lemon juice,  white pepper powder

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The yellow rose in full bloom

A few years ago when i'd gone on a cycling expedition near Kullu I got back 3 varieties of roses.
Of these only one flowered and recently its really on a roll ! At one point it had over 23 buds :-)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Biking it in Kokan

Very rough draft of a trek 3 yrs ago

26th to 30th October/ November 2011

6 15 Start
7 20 bfast at shirwal
11 30 kolhapur
1 00 start post lunch

7 30 reach vijaydurg
9 30 govt resthouse

Visit vijaydurga 730 to 11
11 start on to yashwantgad
2 on to ambolgad
4 lunch at adivre
6 30 reach purnagad stay in a temple just below the fort

8 30 start for pavas
9 00 Bfast there
10 00 ratnadurga
1 00 matsyalay tilak

Visited relatives and then on to Appya's farm house where Apporv, Mithali and Brandy had already arrived. Torrential downpour enroute.

Joined there ar night by few other friends Shiva, Pournima, Hrishikesh and Vishakha.

Next day we went to Jaygad but couldt not locate Vijaygad there. 

The next morning it was pack up and back to Pune via an awesome ghat near Koynanagar.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Some fresh produce from our rooftop 'farm'

Some pics from our roof top farm. Bottle gourd and chillies !  Will post a full gallery on picasa soon ! Currently have tomatoes,chillies, sweet potato (ratala) , lal math, 'wal', basil, bottle gourd on the food front. More photos coming soon.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The anti corruption movement heats up in Pune - Photos from Pune

The people have taken to the streets in Pune and all over India to support the anti corruption movement led by Anna Hazare

The Tricolor flies with new found vigor in the Anti Corruption rallies across India. The Youth are rediscovering the meaning of freedom, patriotism & democracy..

The people sitting for fasting in the night batch 8 pm in the night to 8 am in the morning..

Everyone sports "Anna Caps" & Fight corruption TShirts. People from all walks of life join hands to fight corruption which threatens the country.

Its all about Patriotism here as the crowd joins in singing Patriotic songs.

Ghoshna ani Jai Jai kar.. Its the first time for many as India experiences its first Revolution since freedom.

The crowd joins in to Sing Vande Mataram at the Balgandharva Chowk in Pune

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dharmapuri Gadhi & Kedareshwar temple- Beed region

Continuing on our journey, we started for Dharmapuri at about 3 30 after getting a smacking lunch at Krushnai lunch home in Ambejogai. We reached the place at about 5.

Dharmapuri is more of a 'Gadhi' than a fort, located about 30 kms from Ambejogai on the road to Ahmadpur. The peculiar feature of the fort is that a lot of temple remenants have been used in the construction. Practically every wall of the fort addorns beautiful carvings from some temple structure. The outer walls are pretty much in good shape and even the doorway is in decent condition but inside hardly any structures remain. On one side you can see the remnants of walls of some rooms and a room with a almost complete roof. Opposite to that on a bastion there is the grave of a 'Pir'.  On one of the walls a temple panel showing the fight between Sugreeva and Vali with Ram shooting an arrow at Vali is seen. To the right of this a flight of stairs leads down to the bottom a large ashtakoni(octagonal) well.  Just near the water a Kirtimukha can be seen on the wall on the left.

Almost next to the actual well opening there is a large underground chamber,the entrance of which you can easily miss because of the shrubs that have taken over.

After completing our tour of the Gadhi we went on to the nearby temple of Kedareshwar which is very old. three of the outer walls of the temple are adorned with beutiful sculptures of Vishnu in his various avatars,  Shiva Parvati etc. A sculpture of Narsimha shown killing Hiranyakashyapu is most striking. A rare sculpture of Bramha can also be seen. Other panels show Sursundaris and Vishkanya. Another notable sculpture is one of the Mrutyudevata. A huge sculpture of the Vyal is seen near the entrance.

Inside, there is a Shivling. The carvings on the inner side aren't as striking as the ones outside.Kirtimukhas adorn a lot of the inner walls.

This temple is in a pretty sorry state and one can find a few panels from one of the destroyed walls near temple.

After seeing the temple we went on to Latur where we planned to stay at my Uncle's place and then go on to Udaigiri at Udgir and Awsa forts on the 14th.

Awsa fort, Latur

Awsa is located just 19 odd kms from Latur. We started from Latur at about 3 30 after having a awesome lunch at my uncles's place. The fort closes at 5 and we managed to get there just in time.There is an old doorway at one point which seems to be part of the old walls surrounding the village below the fort. The wooden doors here are still standing and have iron spikes on them to deter an assault using elephants.

There is a person from the dept. Of archeology present here and you need to do an in & out entry in a log book present with him. Also Note that you need to take permission from the archeology offices in Pune if you want to do any serious photography here. Since we didn't know about this earlier, we were reduced to taking a few odd snaps on my phone. This in my opinion is an idiotic rule made by the archeology department since none of the remnants will be affected by flashes. If there any other reasons, they are not apparent.

It seems a lot of efforts have been taken by the dept. at some point to develop the fort and a garden inside it but at present its in a pretty bad condition. Overgrown would be very much be an understatement. The big plus is that there are are quite a large number of peacocks in the fort and the surrounding area and they are pretty tame too.

Just after entering the fort there is a large courtyard and a number of cannons are placed here.  Further ahead there is a large courtyard under which is a underground chamber supposedly used for secret meetings.Going on further ahead there is a well called as katori which means bowl in hindi. This well can be accessed by stairs on two levels.

There are 5 cannons on the various bastions on the fort. One of them is a Pancha dhatu one (alloy of 5 metals) and one is pretty long. Another nice feature is the 'chandrakoni wihir' - a well in the shape of the crescent moon.

Just above the coutyard there is a tower which has a nice view of the fort. There a peculiar feature here which I saw for the first time were round pillars made of brick.

Udaigiri fort - Udgir , Latur

We started from Latur for Udgir at 8 30 in the morning. Udaigiri fort lies in the town of Udgir - 65 kms from Latur.

The fort is surrounded by a large moat and we have to cross a bridge to enter the fort. From here going to the right there is the Samadhi of Udgir Maharaj after whom the town is named. There is a large water tank in which there is a cave on one side inside which there is a Shivling. To get to this cave one has to walk through knee deep water.

Now on to the fort. Walking from the entrance through a series of doors we enter a courtyard.

There are quite a few buildings inside the fort in decent condition but almost all walls having old lime plaster have been spoiled by miscreants writing their names on them. In fact its hard to find a place without them. The upper floor of the building on the right has some beautiful artwork.

At the top of this building on the bastion there is the 'Surya' tof (canon). In the courtyard there is a tank in the shape of a flower. On one side there is a building which seems to be the highest point and has a good view. In general there are a lot of ruins of old mahals in pretty good condition. These are all pretty similar in design. At some placess you can also find some underground chambers.

We took about 2 hours to see the entire fort and were back in Latur by 2 30.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dharur fort - Beed region

We had been travelling for a long time-almost 4 hours when we reached Jamkhed. Our destination the fort of Dharur was still a long way off so we decided to take some rest in a temple in a village half way between Jamkhed and Patoda.

Feeling refreshed, we started off at about 8am from there and stopped at Manjarsumba to get some breakfast. We have now just started on our way again. The next mile stone is Kej where we shall take the turn towards Dharur. I will continue my naration now once we have seen the Dharur fort.

Dharur is a mix of a hill and land fort. Its defences are strenthened by valleys on 3 sides and a moat on the 4th side. Initially built by Rashtrakut kings, this fort was later under the Nizam and later the Moghuls. Netaji Palkar was  captured by Aurangzeb.

The road that takes one to the fort through the Dharur village brought back memories of Chakan in Pune. A narrow road snakes through the densely crowded houses towards the fort. A lot of the houses are pretty old and have beautiful old doors.

The entrance to the fort is strategically flanked by 2 huge bastions such that the actual doorway is hidden from view. The fort is protected by 30 bastions and a lot of the fortifications are intact. Inside the fort one can see a temple, some dry tanks which seem like old swimming tanks ! Interestingly the moat seems to have been by building two walls on 2 sides of the fort and damming a stream that might have flowed down the valleys. Both the walls are huge and have formed spectacular pools which are part of the moat. One can see ducks frolicking around in the water. There is also a mosque on which you can see a inscription in Parsi. Interestingly there are a couple of recent graves in the courtyard dating 2010.

There are 2 bastions inside the fort that seem to be lookout points. One of them is in a diapiladated state with no way left to reach the top.

We reached Dharur fort at about 11 and completd our tour by 1 30. According to some locals that we talked to the covered tanks in the middle of the fort are 'tupachya wihiri' which means wells of ghee. In those times old ghee was used to treat wounds.

We started off from Dharur at 1 30. Next we plan to stop for lunch at Ambejogai and then go on to Dharmapuri where there is a 'gadhi' and a very old Kedareshwar temple with beautiful

Friday, August 12, 2011

Beed osmanabad latur forts trek - day one blogging on the go

Its the 12th of August and the 6 of us ar waiting for the hired Tavera to pick us up. This year 15th August - India's independance day has come on a Monday giving us a nice to day long weekend owing to which we have planned to visit the forts in the Beed,Osmanabad & Latur regions. Its been a bit of a hard decision planning this effective 'tour' of mostly land forts so far away from our favourite Sahyadris but then getting this much time in such an apt season for this region would have been harder.

There are 6 of us on this trip - Ashwin,Manali, Darshan, Pranav, Himangi & myself. The plan for day 1 is to travel towards Ambejogai via Nagar road and our first stop will be Dharur fort which is enroute.  Next we shall be going on to Ambejogai and visit the Gadhi of Dharmapuri and if time permits go on to visit the fort of Udgir.

We entered the Beed district at about 4 am in the morning and just a little outside the town of Jamkhed, we saw groups of boys jogging at pretty regular intervals which was pretty puzzling. More updates will follow in upcoming posts !

Monday, August 8, 2011

Blogging from my new Samsung Galaxy Pro

So finally after squeezing all the juices out of my old Nokia 3110c I have got my self a smartphone.

Though I was able to just about get things I needed most done using the 3110c, of late the gmail app on it had become unbearably slow and the phone itself had got some physical damange on my trip to Periyar in Feb.

When Pinakin got himself a Galaxy, I got a chance to really properly use android and be sure that it would work for me. I was definitely sure I wanted a phone with a QWERTY keypad since I mainly wanted it for email on the go. So a touch and type was the best choice. This narrowed down the phones available greatly making my decision way easier. Next the thing to look at while buying an android is the processor speed. The galaxy pro was the only phone at that point with a 800 mhz processor which was much faster than most phones in my budget and the qwerty factor. I jumped on to the internet & found that I could get this 10k priced phone for just 8500 on flipcart. A couple of days after I got the phone my wife announced that this was her aniversary gift and that she had already transfered the money to my bank ! How awesome is that :-)

The phone is pretty awesome for the cost it comes at.

- Nice large screen with android running in landscape mode
- Awesome keypad. Very easy to type with
- Android 2.2
- Decent battery life 

- Screen resolution is pretty low
- No multi touch so so pinch zoom
- not found any custom roms for this phone yet 
- haven't been able to get auto complete to work with the hardware keypad.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Vote Bank Politics in India - Caste in Census forms - Time to put an end to it

I am not the best informed person in this field.. But hey i have the right to my opinion.. So i guess i will express it.

The Indian Census process that is currently ongoing was rebooted recently as the Government passed a resolution to add two new columns in the form.. These being "Caste" & "Religion"... which have always been the great Divides in India since ages..

For years the great thinkers & cultural revolutionaries have fought to bridge these divides.. Why even the Indian constitution was written with this in mind.. But over the years political big wigs have kept fueling these divides to fuel their political ambitions & stay in power.. The religious/caste related  riots that have happened in India to date have their root cause in this.

I can understand that you need to understand the stature & status of a "class" of people in order to do development tasks for them.. But does this "classing" of people need to be on a redundant system like the Caste system ? Why cant it simply be on the basis of economics or the economic stature of the people ?

With this, I feel the seeds of dissent that were sown with the so called "Reservations" for various people are simply coming a full circle. I am ok with Economic reservations, scholarships & what not.. But do we really need the reservations based on Caste now ?

I am even ok if you do need to have reservations for the betterment of certain sections of the society.. But do they have to call themselves of a certain class or religion to do that ?

What kind of secularism is that ? Isnt it basically unconstitutional even.. ( Assuming the constitution still says that !)

I have decided to Protest against this hideous "Classing" of the Indian population.. Its really close to the Nazis classing the Jews separately.. Next they's want certain classes to carry ID cards.. Whatever next !

Me including my family have decided to opt out of filling these columns. Options are to either right a "-" against them or write "Indian"  against it..

I implore you to join me in this. Its time we did something to change this. The "Re Census" is simply a way for all the Political parties to get a amazing survey carried out of their vote banks & make it easy for them to sow further seeds of dissent.  Lets wake up & smell the coffee.. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Trek to Bhivgad alias Bhimgad

I'd been planning to visit this fort for almost 3 weeks but due to some or the other reason it ended up getting postponed.

Finally we decided to head to Bhivgad on the 26th of jan 2011 which was an holiday on account of the republic day of India. When we started out by Sinhagad express, at 6 in the morning from Shivajinagar, there were 6 of us- Pranav, Aditya, Dnyanesh, Vishal, Himangi & myself.

After we got out at Karjat, I got a call from Ashish, that himself, Mayur & Gaurav were at Khopoli & needed directions to Peth fort( Kothaligad) . I told them that we were headed to Bhivgad & asked he they wanted to join us. They agreed & we decided to directy meet at Gaur Kamath the base village.

We walked to the right from the railway station to the bridge where one can get a rick to the base village @10 rs per seat. We reached the base village at around 9 30. The other gang joined us in a few mins and we started up at around 10. The route starts just opp the tea shop near the rickshaw stand.

The route starts climbing up from the right of the maruti temple and climbs the spur of the mountain. After a climb of about 15 mins the route traverses to the left till we come to rock but steps but into the mountain on the right. Climbing up from here we come across 2 caves built into the wall on our right. The first cave is full of hundreds of bats & their smell is overpowering.

There is a small idol of some deity outside this cave. To the left is another cave which is smaller but free of bats. From this point on there are rock cut steps and the path moves quickly to the fort top. At the top of the steps it seems like we have reached the fort top but its still a little way from here.

On this small plateau there is a water tank which has potable water. Walking a little ahead we come across a depression that needs to be crossed to in up the main fort. On the top, there are 2 water tanks of which one is dry and the water in the other isnt good. There is a large plinth of some old structure at the top.

The top offers a fabulous view of the route to Dhak fort, the base mountain of which towers high behind Bhivgad. The climb to the top takes about 45 mins. Its a short trek and ideally it would be a good idea to club the trek to Bhivgad with a trek to Dhak.

We were back at Karjat by around 2 30 and on our way back to Pune by the 4 10 Sinhagad express.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Squeezing the juice out of my nokia 3110c

With smart phones becoming common place, nokia too has changed its strategy. Even lower range Phones like the C3 now come with great business features like push mail, chat and a nice qwerty keypad.

 I have been attracted to smart phones for quite some time now but have resisted buying one. The main reason being that none of the phones are really open. I want to wait till there is a affordable phone on the market that lets you change the os to whatever you want say in the 15k range. Shouldn't be hard considering that you can get a net book at that price and fully use it as a phone by adding a data card. T

here are some phones running ubuntu & meebo available.. But they are too costly as of now. So till that happens i am squeezing all the juice i can out of my nokia 3110C.

I have added a host of apps to it to make it in as near a smart phone as possible for this basic piece of hardware and restricted and old os.

For browsing the web, i use opera mini 4. Sadly the new ver5 with tabbed browsing does not work on this phone. For email, i use gmail's mobile app which allows me to configure multiple email accounts.. Even google apps accounts.

The only issue with this is that i cant send attachments but i just use opera when i need to do that. I also have a nifty qr code reader app that works as well as on any smart phone. I have a variety of games setup when i need to while away time while waiting for someone. Whats more i can read on the web too!

The only app i havent been able to find is a pdf book reader. So i just use another app that of convert and package e books as jar files. So all in all, my current needs seem to be pretty much fulfilled.

In fact even this blog is written using the same phone!

Did you know that you can blog from a nokia 3110c

This is the first time i an trying to blog from my aging nokia 3110c. With nothing else to do as i travel from pune to karjat for a trek to bhivgad (bhimgad) , thought i'd give this a shot. If it works expect more clois from of on the go!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Google celebrates Makar Sankranti with a Kites logo !

Its been Quite some time since i have seen Google have a Indian Festival logo. I suppose its only reflecting to Indian locations ...

Google today sports a Trendy look on Account of Makar Sankranti. Feast your eyes while it lasts !

For those of who dont know What this is all about, "Makar Sankrant" is one of the major  harvest festivals in India ( though this is not the only reason for the celebration) .. As Wikipedia says " this festival is celebrated for innumerable reasons and in innumerable ways" .. Rather than me go on about it.. Go read the Wiki Article about it !

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Amazing New Years trek 2011 - Saptashrungi, Markandya, Rawla & Jawlya Forts

New year for me & a lot of other trekkomaniacs is not about partying into the night or going clubbing... It's not been that for more than 10 years now.. I remember the last time I did anything 'conventional' on News year's eve was back in my 10th Standard.

That said, I usually try to plan some kind of trek around new years eve to places where no one else is likely to visit. P.S. when you are visiting forts in the first place, this isn't too hard to do considering the numerous options available !
Marvellous View of Markandya from Saptashrungi
This year we decided to head over to the Nashik region, which is what we usually do when we have enough time on our hands ,since this region has a very high density of forts within easy reach but you need to have atleast 2 days to get there from Pune.  The target was Saptashrungi, Markandya, Rawlya & Jawlya forts. Of these Saptashrungi is not really a fort.. but a cave temple set in a huge & beautiful pinnacle.

Elaborate route planning for the trek was done in fultu corporate style by Dnyanesh, while Himangi handled the provisions planning & finally by the evening of 31st  December 2010, we were all ready to set of for the Trek. The team was of just 5 people. Dnyanesh, Ashish, Himangi, Pranav & myself. We set off from the Shivajinagar ST stand where Dnyanesh had done the reservation for us for the 11 PM Asiad.

View Saptashrungi, Markandya Rawlya Jawlya trek in a larger map

Day 1 - Arrival at Nashik - by Bus to Saptasrungi - Trek on to Markandya fort- Stay at Ashram

We arrived at Nashik at around 4 AM on the 1st of January 2011. Since the bus from Pune comes to the New ST stand, we had to walk to the old one. This is where we got the 5 15 bus to Saptashrungi. The bus arrived at the Saptasrungi ST stand around 7 15. After finishing our morning activities & having a breakfast of 'Pohe' with Chai & 'Paw' which the hotel attendant was not at all keen on giving us & kept insisting that it had gone bad ! ; we went & took in the sights. The highlights here being the cave temple, the 2 Old Shiva temples & a Ganesh temple. Of these we only visited the two old Shiva temples one of which definitely seems to be of Hemadpanthi origins & looks very similar to the temple at Harishchandragad.  This temple is near a very nice 'kund' (water tank).

The route to Markandya fort , (so called mostly because of the temple of Markandya Rishi set at the very top of this fort)  goes from near the second Shiva temple. From here a path leads to the ridge. The path descends downwards just before the railing starts & there are some withering rock cut steps on the way. The path initially descends gradually, parallel to the ridge . The walk to the col between Saptashrungi & Markandya has a few simple rock patches which one has to cover.

From the col, the path moves steeply upwards for while & again some small rock patches need to be scaled. from there the path moves to the left of the Markandya ridge & its a parallel walk till it moves steeply up a stream till we reach the base of the main fort.  From here the path enters the forest & from near a small "kuttia" of a local hermit, moves up to the col between Markandya & a smaller hilltop . The view from atop this top is amazing & you can see our entire trek route right upto Rawlya, Jawlya as well as the fort of Dhodap from here.
 On our way up from the stream we were held up for almost an hour, as almost a hundred villagers from the village Dewargav were going from Markandya to Saptashrungi. They told us that they do this 'Yatra' every year. They had started walking from their village at 5 AM the previous day, stayed over at the Ashram below Markandya & were on their way to Saptashrungi, from where they would take a bus back. So here were some people who had been doing this "New Years Trek" for years together before this term was even coined !

We had lunch on the plateau below the main fort at around 1 30 pm & were on Markandya top by around 3 30 pm. There is temple on the very top of the fort with a idol of the sage Makandya praying & facing exactly in the direction of the Saptashrungi temple which is exactly ahead. A little lower down there are a few water tanks one of them being underground. The books mention a storehouse for ammunition or "Barud Khana" that was used by the Peshwas but that is no where in sight. There is a large plinth & a structure, that seems to have been converted into living quarters by some people .. mostly hermits living here.. This might have been the building mentioned. Once we had finished looking at the sights, we started back.

The original plan had been to reach "Tiwari Wasti" ( Tiwari's dont live here any more & some Cow herds  by the Surname Thakare now live here)  which is on the plateau between Rawlya Jawlya & stay there.. But it was getting late, so we decided to descend the col mentioned earlier on the other side & stay at the ashram on the machi for the night.

On the way down this col, we discovered a couple of amazing tunnels, square in shape & cut in the rock. The one on the left split into two & both ends went in a bit & stopped, while the one on the right went in for quite some way & the end there was a depression in which there was water which might be an underground stream. There were flowers offered in this so it seemed to be some place of worship.

 This ashram had originally been setup by another hermit ( Ranganath Maharaj) who has taken a Samadhi here & the shrine for the same exists here.The Ashram was very clean & well maintained & the disciples & the sage were kind enough to let us stay there & even gave us Food & bedding for the night. Once there, we had lots of time to spare so we went ahead & prepared tea on Dnyanesh's solid fuel stove & supplemented it with Bhel that we prepared. This followed by a nice cozy campfire fueled by dry Eucalyptus leaves among other wood (Which we thought, very healthy) & cleared up our noses  throats nicely !

After attending the arti at the ashram, an amazing hot dinner from the Ashram kitchens was served & we went to sleep at around 10 pm.

Day 2 - Markandya Machi to col between Markandya & Rawlya Jawlya - to Thakare wasti - Rawlya fort - Jawlya fort - Stayed at Thakare wasti

We woke up at around 6 45.. but the sun did not come up till almost 7 15am. After a quick tea we were on our way by 8.  From the Ashram, we headed straight towards the ridge that snakes steeply down to the col between the two hills or rather mountains. A road from Wani to Kalwan runs in this col &  you can also do the trek from here. Nashik - Kalwan STs run from the old ST stand. Alternatively you can also get here pretty easily from Wani, that's well connected & is just 11 kms from here & Jeeps usually ply from there.
From here one has to descent to the col between Rawlya & Markandya
On our way to the ridge we met a group of experienced trekkers from Nashik who clarified the route for us to go on to Rawlya & Jawlya. It took us about an hour to reach the col from the Ashram. The route from Markandya initially has some brick steps & then a 'paywat' takes you down to the col.

From the col you need to climb on to the ridge & climb keeping the ridge on your right till you are on top of it . Continuing to the top, you will See Rawlya first. In our case we took the path on the left of Rawlya ( but discovered later that there is another route on the right & its much shorter) & skirted around the fort till we came on top the flat area between the two forts. Just before the settlement of the cowheards starts, there is an Old water tank with a live stream of flowing water. However this seems to be used by cows now for drinking.. but since its flowing, the water isnt too bad. Just ahead there is another stream of flowing water that has been protected from the cattle by a wall of stones roughly built around it..

Here we decided to stop & have something to eat. It was almost 12 00 noon when we got here & hadnt had much to eat, except for a few butter chaklis & Biscuits. Since we didnt have time to do any cooking, we decided to eat Bhel Again! By around 1 pm we were done & ready to move on. We went to the wasti & discovered that the Tiwaris had moved out & now some cow heards by the surname Thakare lived there. They were very accommodating & allowed us to keep our sacks in their hut while we went to the forts.

First off we started on to Rawlya. While getting to this path we lost the way almost at the base & ended up going a long way on the other route that goes to Saptashrungi from the other side of the fort.. We lost almost 20 mins in that till we got back on the right track.

The route to this starts from roughly the middle of the face exposed to us & moves gradually to the left till you are on the face that cant be seen from the village. The route initially is on good ground but on most of the higher part it gets very steep & has really bad scree on a very narrow path. So you have to be very careful.

This route continues till you reach the rock wall. There is another tunnel here similar to the ones mentioned earlier. From here you have to shift to the left till you come to a small & steep chimney like col. Though not vertical, the climb is made a bit tiresome by scree & lose rock. Once you get to the top , you need to go a bit to the left where you will be faced with a rock wall, that one has to scale to get on the top of the fort.
Rock Patch
We got till this part with some effort.. but discovered that though the patch could be scaled, it would be difficult & risky to get down without a rope that we had not got with us.  So we decided to turn back from here since it was getting late & we still had Jawlya to do.

We got down by around 3 & the locals at the settlement told us that the route to Jawlya starts from the right side of the foothill, moves up till you reach the rock wall & then moves left parallel to the rock wall, till you come to the extreme left side of the fort & here there are steps to go up.
Jawlya Fort
So again we started on our way. The way till the rock face is similar to Rawlya if not steeper in some places & with as much scree. Once at the face, the route was much easier. As we neared the left side of the fort, we saw some half finished rock cut caves & at the extreme left a underground water tank. We started looking for the steps.. and bless us all try as we did.. we could not find any  ! So thinking that the route might be further ahead we went all the way around to the other sides ( the fort has a roughly triangular base) but no luck.  Very disappointed, we started on our way back...

When we reached the water tank, we decided to give it another shot & climbing a little higher near the extreme left end, I spotted the steps .. mind you they are pretty small & easy to miss unless you are right on the top of them.. Cursing ourselves for our foolishness in not finding them sooner, we started up. At this time we had lost almost an hour in the search & it was around 5 pm. It would start getting dark in an hour..

After a few steps, there was a part where the steps had broken away & we had to shift over a very narrow rock ledge onto the remaining steps. This was the main risky part in this route. Once that was scaled, the steps went right up. There is very high exposure throughout on this route & the view is simply amazing. The steps, climb on right till the doorway or rather whats left of it. Here the route like at Kothaligad goes through a rock cut cavern & opens up in a broken doorway. Right in the front, here is a small Bastian. From this point in about a minute, you are on the top of the fort.

There isn't much to see except for a lot of tanks & a few broken buildings. Since the sun had already started setting behind the mountains, we decided to start back without wasting more time. We were back at the settlement in about 40 mins & it was about 6 30. At that point it was still light & we decided to make a move on & take the path on the left which was a shortcut compared to one from which we had come. But it grew pitch dark in less than 15 mins & we decided to stay back at the cow herds place. We made our dinner of Biryani Pulao on their chullah & shared it with them. This was followed by Dnyanesh's freshly made Pedhas from khawa bought from our hosts ! They gave us some space in the lean to their house where they milked their cows. It was a pretty cold night & the quarters were cramped but it definitely was a lot less colder than it was outside since the wind was chilling.

We got up at around 6 30 in the morning but it was almost 8 when we left. We got some fresh Khawa ( Khoya) from the cow herds for taking home with us ( This was later converted to delicious Gulab Jamuns by Himangi ). After a nice cup of coffee made from freshly milked milk from the cows, we set off. It was about 9 30 by the time we reached the col . From here we took a jeep back to Wani & went back to Pune..

Whew long blog.. Wonder who'll read it !  This was one of the most killing treks i have done in some time !

Photo Credits : Himangi, Dnyanesh, Ashish
On the Way back, on top of a Jeep !