NO TITLE since I couldn’t think of a hooking one !
Let me first tell you for who all is this article NOT for.
1. People looking for a place to visit with their family.
2. People looking for a place to visit with girls in their group. (It’s BIG NO NO!!!)
3. People looking for a place to visit and are a chicken! (If you know what I mean)
You’ll come to know the reason yourself soon enough.
Rest will be ok! I guess!
Our destination is Malavli, though it’s not our final destination. Well, Malavli is a budding town and a hill station, 55km from Pune. It also has small station named Malavli Station; it’s a station before Lonavla Station. One can easily get a local from Pune for Malavli. It’s cheap and the last local leaves at 11 o clock at night. (Don’t stress-mess your brain; you’ll soon know the reason why I mentioned the time of last local and not the first one early morning.)
Malavli is famous for its hills, forts, caves and waterfalls. Like most hill stations, its best when visited during monsoon season for but obvious reason of being lushgreen. Lohagad fort and Vispur fort are the two dual forts situated on the top of two different but very nearby hills. Malavli also have Bhaje Caves, these are a group of 18 rock-cut caves dating back to 200 BC. Don’t worry the article is not about caves. And yes, the best part is that all these places are at walkable distance from the station itself. So no need getting conned by auto rickshaw people or cab drivers and spending those extra bucks!
Some more information about Malavli. Malavli hills lie in Sahyadri range and it separates Deccan Plateau & Konkan Coast.Vispur fort has an elevation of 1084 meters above sea level
Although being at the same plateau, among the two forts, Vispur fort is at higher elevation than the Lohagad fort. And this too played an important role in history.
In 1818, when reducing the Peshwa's forts, the strength of Lohagad and its fame as the treasury of the Maratha kingdom, caused the English to make special preparations for its attack. A detachment of 380 European and 800 native soldiers, with a battering train, summoned from Konkan, were joined by artillery from Chakan, and two other British battalions. On 4 March 1818, Visapur was attacked and occupied.
Making use of its higher elevation and proximity to Lohagad, the British troops set up their cannons on Visapur and bombarded Lohagad, forcing the Marathas to flee. Thus, in 1818, Lohagad-Visapur was taken over by the British in 1818 AD and placed under the command of a Colonel Prother. Considering, the strategic importance of Visapur, both the north (Konkan) and the south (Deccan) gateways were blown up, and except a few huts, nothing was left standing. In contrast, most of Lohagad fort is still intact. Lohagad fort is also known as Iron Fort (god knows why? But ‘Google Baba’ gives the reason that it was one of the strongest fort ever built in Indian history) and it’s is under government protected monument.
All this information just for the sake of my love for Indian history. You can always search all that stuff on Wikipedia. As they say it’s always beneficial to have some historical knowledge of the place one is visiting. Firstly you don’t need a guide and all, plus you can feel the place since you know historical background. Any information is always fruitful.
Coming back on the topic, there are well made steps to reach the Lohagad Fort and you can buy a ticket of mere 10 rupees per person. The fort is open up to 5 o clock in the evening Cemented pathway and steps, buying tickets and doing everything the legal way. Wait wait wait……. but where’s the fun in that?
The article is about its twin brother fort called Vispur fort. It’s not under Indian government monuments to be protected. It’s deserted, abandoned and in ruins and you can certainly not find any people out there. That is the place to be and our final destination. Believe me it’s no ordinary fort. You won’t be disappointed. Just go on and read this article. And you’ll definitely desire to be there with that sort of experience. It’s full of thrills and so called Salman bhai’s ‘KICK’.
Going by my experience………………..
Here are some suggestions:-
1. Make sure you keep sufficient water, atleast 1 bottle per person.
2. Carry flashlights with some extra batteries.
3. Atleast one cellphone which is completed charged just in case of emergency(though it will be very hard to find network out there)
4. Do wear some hood or sweatshirt, atleast wear full selves top and some trouser or trackpants below, it gets cold at night plus it’s at higher altitude so it’s bound to, it’s a hill station.
5. Take some food with you if have foodie people in your gang (but more food means more water consumption).
6. Make sure you are not more than 7-8 people all together (easier to sneak plus more people imply more noise).
7. Sport shoes everyone. It’s a long trek. (No converse and other sneakers. Woodland shoes might be a good idea but they are quite heavy so I’ll still go with sports shoes.)
8. Just in case, keep a matchbox or a lighter with you. (You won’t need it but………)
9. As soon as you start trekking, start looking for a stick around. ( It provides support plus might be handy in case of emergency)
10.Stick with your group. Bottom line- DON’T part away. (It is very tough finding one another. Remember very bleak cellphone network!)
11.Avoid Smoking if you do smoke, if you are a dedicated smoker then keep a pack of ciggies and smoke once you reach hill-top at the fort watching sunrise and get all philosophical.
12.This one is optional to follow. Keep some stones in your pocket (like I did) the reason is still the same……………you never know!
PS: - As they say, where’s the fun in following the rules? Choice is yours and so are the consequences. GO OUT and EXPLORE!
After this point, the article will be more sort of a travel dairy rather than being an article.
We took the last local from Pune station at 23:16 hrs. Since it was the last local therefore it won’t be crowded plus the train starts from Pune station itself so one can easily get place to sit. You can also buy a ticket if it pleases you. Sorry, I don’t know the fare. (Coz I dint bought one). But I can assure you that it won’t be much, after all it’s a local. But still if you wanna know about one then please help yourself and Google it. Moving forward, it was an hour long journey from Pune station to Malavli station so we made ourselves comfortable and enjoyed the night and the breeze. One more thing, like us, try and get in last few coaches of local the train since we have to get off at the Malavli station without entering the platform. If we sneak out via platform the chances of getting caught by police are more. Now here’s the problem, if you get caught they won’t leave you till sunrise since it’s not safe to trek until then. But as I said, where’s the fun in that? As Malavli station is a small station and train is longer at length then the station so last few coaches of the local don’t park infornt of the station platform. So quietly get off the train and sneak out to the nearby road. There is only one road over there so you don’t need to ask anyone. It will leave you to the village via the overbridge on Mumbai-Pune highway. Follow the same road straight till the end for around 1km and you’ll be greeted with steps. Steps will lead to Bhaje caves and Lohagad fort which will be closed at the point of night. And those are also not our destination. Follow the steps for like 2-3 minutes and get off them into the jungle. And now your trek has finally begun!
After this point there is no certain way to get up to the top of the hill. One has to make their own way to the top. In our case we choose the displacement rather than the distance. In place of looking for the predefined path, we made our path to the top. If we would come to a dead we would just alter our path, not by much though. We thrashed the bushes and wild plants in our path to make way for us. (There you go…….another use of stick)
You’ll come across a region in your trek which is covered with cactus vegetation. Now that’s where your full selves clothes and track pants are gonna be a lifesaver. But still you have to be careful while moving through this region. And one more thing I forgot to mention, try and choose the night on which there aint new moon. (I dint forget to mention it I just chose not to put it up in the suggestion points. People reading the full article and not skimming through it must have some advantages over lazy ones.)
The good parts about this hill are the points at which you can rest. I mean one can find several flat terrains to catch up with their breath. You can also eat food, ofcourse only if you brought it with you.
‘The thing’ about this trip is the danger involved. It’s raw, ready to be explored. It will get your adrenaline going. The fact that you encounter anything makes this shit awesome! You might see some flashlights suddenly on the other hills or hear some voices randomly. You could encounter wild dogs or other animals and if not them then their barking and other sounds will definitely scared the shit out of you. One will also come across skeleton of animals (most probably, not sure though could be of men too).Some fresh footprints of animals can scare you too. Plus the fresh shit/excrete of animals how I could forget about that one (Now you know why not to carry people who are chicken (afraid of everything)).
We travelled with moderate pace and with adequate rest; it took us 3 hrs to reach at the top. But I have to mention about the one part here. When we almost reached at the top of the hill, we figured out we have travelled to the wrong part of the hill and there is no entry to the fort from here. Well the fort was made for battles so to provide geographical shield/advantage there was only one entry, and other sides were trench/ditch or too steep to climb without ropes. We figured that out too late, we got committed to climb the steep slippery part. And it turned out to be very dangerous. There was no grip at those places; the instructions from the most experienced guy (which was not too much though) were that if one person is slipping LET HIM SLIP! Otherwise the person trying to help might also slip with him. And suddenly something happened. I slipped obviously due to my extra pounds on myself and the backpack. I somehow held onto something but the torch which I was holding suddenly slipped out of hand. We all saw it rolling down the hill into the ditch but since it was dark we couldn’t see it further. The worst part was the sound of the torch hitting the ground of the ditch. It was worst because we never heard it, even though it was silent like hell out there. The ditch was so deep that sound never came back. As soon as this happened, one of the chap (chicken) from my friends suddenly withdraws from the trip and asked to head back home. But we, nah! We were in no mood to retreat. We followed the pirates’ code. “What’s lags behind is left behind” (yeah! Big fan of Jack Sparrow. Oops……CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow). Though we did leave a guy with him and promised to return back in few hours and asked them to wait for us. (That’s where we got parted).
Finally we entered the fort through some absurd hidden door which we couldn’t find later even when we tried so hard. Fort was so full of history. Cannon, flags, water ponds, walls on the edge of the fort, places to drop stones to prevent people from climbing through ropes. There was spot to hide and aim to shoot. We walked through the entire fort. But the best part was sunrise. As soon as the light struck the surrounding we became aware of the view around us and believe me it was AMAZING. We found hideout places of soldiers. It was this basement which was under the hill. Since it was cold we also lit fire with help of dry leaves and wood to warm ourselves. The view out there had no words. We wanted to stay there for longer. We all were tired and wanted to sleep out there but due to some other commitment we have to go back. We left after spending around 3 hours at the fort.
There were many other incidents out there. Like when we got run over by wild bulls. It wasn’t such a big thing but the only the problem was we got caught up against this dead-end, the ditch. Somehow we got off, travelling along the line of the ditch!
Don’t panic when you see injections needles and joint buds and other used up drug commodities lying over there. The chances you that one can find someone there at night doing drugs are very rare. Though you may find but still don’t panic. Avoid them.
Soon we also met our parted friends who found some alter route in the morning to enter the fort. After spending some time we atlast not willing though but proceeded to go back.
Return journey won’t be boring either. You’ll see what all you came through in the dark night all by yourself. Yeah! Yeah! You may have a pat on your back. In short, one will definitely be proud of himself. You’ll see the most dangerous part in which you have to face while climbing, the steep, slippery part near the hill top. And you’ll be amazed at yourself that YOU did that. And you’ll definitely give it a thought that if you would have seen what you were getting into, you would never even attempt it. It was the darkness that hid stuff from you and you were able to do it (see even darkness is also helpful sometimes). About the retreat, it’s a waterfall route which is simply amazing. You ll be mostly tired so nothing much one can observe. Plus the return route is longer since its distance this time rather than the displacement.
One can easily find the local back to Pune or some other place. They are quite frequent. You’ll be very hungry by the time you come down. So find some stuff to eat nearby station. And now you don’t need spoon-feeding regarding reaching back to your place where you’ll sleep like 12 hours or so.
Philosophical aspect (since that’s too one of my favorite), young blood makes you do crazy stuff. The adrenalin gets going when you get to do so much adventure, ILLEGAL stuff. You’ll sit one day ponder and laugh on yourself about what all you did in your youth (and that’s gonna make you worry about children too and you gonna be keep an eye on them for the same reason, DON’T). Not drifting from the topic, one will surely cherish the experience in future.
In short, it’s pretty nice place to visit even during the day but the adventure part goes up by atleast 10 times if its night. The sunrise, dawn is awesome. Rest you are your own boss. The experience cannot be completely explained in words. I put my best-foot forward to make it worth your time.
I know it’s a very long article, so please bear with me. That’s the way I write, working on making things shorter and use of less sarcasm and slangs. Bear with errors too. Just a kid trying out something new.
Just a small undertaking at the end. If you go on trip very similar to like ours. We don’t assure you of your safety. You, yourself are responsible for that. We shall not be responsible for any mishap. You never know, we might have just got lucky and you won’t! Scared?
FEW IMAGES (for what words couldn’t express):-
Picture of an old rusted canon lying in the fort. Yes it is of iron but no point thinking of selling it. It’s way too heavy to carry!!!
Pole for hoisting flag. Obviously not in use anymore. Just in case you are pondering how the writer of this article looks (though am pretty sure you are not but still…….) I am the one to extreme left with grey hood (without backpack). You can go ahead and laugh now.
Hideout for soldiers! It was made in such a way that it was visible from only one part of the fort and that part was from the ditch side.
Food! And yes it did get cold at the top.
We were at quite some height! Bear with the camera please.
Temple. Even soldiers believe in god!
Rooms for kings and peshwas!
Found this wooden piece out there. Very similar to Christ Cross. We had it with us as a symbol of good luck throughout the trip. Superstition!