rajgad trek

rajgad. the fort of kings. the king of forts.

rajgad was the residence of shivaji for almost 25 years, before he saw raigad and decided to shift his base there. now raigad is the subject of another extended trek and a subsequent massive blog update! as for now, lets have a look at rajgad.

visited the fort from the 1st to the 4th of november. went with bhushan and shireen, with this trekker group called ‘slipper hikers.’ now there’s a story how that name came about. the group has been trekking for the last thirty years! and it has been an unsaid rule (if i may say so) to make all the treks in those blue-strapped ‘hawaii’ rubber slippers!

we started on the night of the first. reached the base at bhor village at around five in the morning. had tea and poha and started walking. familiar sights, sounds and smells enveloped as soon as we left the village behind. rain turned the red earth into squishy clay, and the mountainside into a green that cannot be found in any colour palette.  the air got cooler, much fresher and breathable. surrounded by yellow and purple flowers, we made our way to the top slowly, taking in as much of the beauty around us as we could.

all pictures: nikon fm2. 28-80 nikon lens. kodak 400.

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the yellow flowers reminded me of tweety. and as for my students, here’s a classic example of contrast colour scheme!

every turn we took showed us a different face of the fort. and egged us on the reach there.

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we entered the fort through the chor darwaza which translates literally to ‘thief door.’ it is a very small entrance at a side of the fort wall generally used to sneak in undetected during times of attack. it was one of the trickiest paths of the treks.

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the first thing one sees after entering through the chor darwaza is the saffron flag. everything that represents the valour of shivaji and the fight for swarajya flows through the flag.

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our base was the padmavati temple, which is next to the padmavati lake. no lake pictures here!

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after a halt for lunch, we started off towards suvela machi. the fort has three machis; fortifications along the length of the fort with observation towers.

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got back to the temple from there. had dinner, sang songs with some excellent bongo playing by a group member, and slept.

next day to sanjivani machi and bale killa, the fort citadel.

started for sanjivani at around nine. and then the fog came! waves upon waves of white fluff riding the mountain ridge. it refused to leave for the entire day. and then it stuck around throughout the time we were on the fort! as the cliche goes, “we couldn’t see beyond five feet!”

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if anyone ever asks me how does it feel to live in a cloud, i will have an answer! i have walked on a carpet of fog, breathed in the light, light fragrance of raindrenchedearthtreeswindoldtreebarkwetstone and everything the mountain offered!

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the next image is one of the best i have taken. and i am proud of myself for it.

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this is bala kaka. he is one of the founder members of the trekking group.

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from there, we headed on the the nedhe. it is a hole in the face of the mountain caused by years of water and air erosion. it is wide enough for people to sit in it. sadly, because of the fog, we couldn’t get an idea of how high up we actually were. very few of us would have then gone up there and sat as if we were five feet off the ground!

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this is the last frame from the colour film. from here on, its the ilford hp2 shank got for me from oslo.

the fog hung around, refusing to clear, forming little droplets in hair, on clothes…

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the entrance to the bale killa.

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it is said that the head of the mughal afzal khan is buried in the walls of the gate, to the left of where shireen is standing.  the walls bore no inscription saying so. probably because the marathas did not want to give afzal a place in written history for all the his atrocities.

bale killa has three water tanks. what has always surprised me is the excellent quality of the water so high up on most of the mountain forts i’ve been to. totally potable, no one would be able to guess the difference between that and bottled mineral water.

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the above is a picture of flower stalks and wild grass swaying in the wind. four second exposure at 22.

this is the temple where we were living in for three days.

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last day. we had lunch, gathered all our bags and stuff, filled our water bottles from one of the water tanks and started down. felt like staying for a few more days. . .

just to see how the fog comes up from nowhere, and in no time envelops every inch of you and everything around you. like some memory you can’t put a finger on, like a song that reminds you of something from the past that you never had and will never know…

i am sure i will meet that fog round some bend somewhere. and we will talk about the time when it refused to leave, clinging on to me like a memory.

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