12th July 2015
Vishramgadh. Resting fort! The fort is so called because Shivaji Maharaj rested on the fort for more than a month due to some illness. This is the only fort apart from Raigad and Rajgad where Shivaji Maharaj stayed for such a long time. You can find more about the history of the fort on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patta_Fort.
Vishramgadh is at a 1 ½ hrs drive from Kasara en route to Bhandardara and one can find private jeeps filling up travellers on a seat basis going up to Nasik or Bhandardara, costing approximately INR100 per seat. 19 kms before Bhandardara, you need to take a left to reach Pattewadi, the base village of the fort. Pattewadi is a small hamlet of a few huts housing around 200 people. The drive to Pattewadi is scenic as you come across the mammoth blades of windmills swirling to the wind, the huge mountains in the backdrop, cattle grazing lazily and goats being herded by the shepherd who gives you a confused look as you pass him. The forts like Alang, Madan, Kulang, Trimbakgad and Kalsubai are in the vicinity of Vishramgadh.
I had joined a group called Tattva for this trek and we were around 21 people of various shapes, sizes and ages taking this trek. This is a relatively easy trek and one can reach the top in about 1 – ½ hrs at leisure after paying a nominal entry fee at the entrance gate. We, of course took more time as the cameras went click click click after every 15 minutes or so. The expanse of the surroundings is really breathtaking and one would only want to take it all in, in sumptuous gulps. This is one of the forts that the Government has tried to preserve and take under its wings and as you start the trek you come across boards with maps, descriptions and history of the fort. A small toilet is also available for the trekkers and travellers though not very clean. A model elephant, a beautiful one with two small ornamented baby elephants probably symbolizes the hugeness of the fort. There is a canon right behind the elephant and into the distance the eyes feast on a dome shaped structure on one of the cliffs at the far end.
A little ahead is a ‘Laxman Swami Maharaj’ cave and further ahead, a temple of ‘Shri Pattai Ashtabhuja Devi’. Railings have been put across at some of the edges around the temple and they actually spoil the beauty of the mountain, but they are there for a reason. Our villager guide Mr.Gulab informed us that there is a huge crowd visiting the temple and the fort during Shiv Jayanti. People from neighbouring villages throng the place and, the local politician; it seems flies in a helicopter to reach there. We trek and they fly, with the tax payers’ money of course! Words of caution here; there are many monkeys around the temple and they would not think twice to grab your cameras or the bar of chocolate you planned to eat.
Another hour of a bit of huffing and puffing and you are at the top of the plateau and come across a temple or ‘sabhagruh’ dedicated to the great king Shivaji. The interiors are still under construction. To cover the entire fort would probably take around 4 hrs and one needs to decide which part he wants to cover. The fort is spread far and wide; in fact it is more of a plateau than a fort as there are hardly any walls or ‘tattbandi’ barring a few which usually defines a fort, but no one’s complaining; the scenery covers for it all. There are a few doors or ‘darwazas’ and a couple of spacious caves on the fort which can easily accommodate 20 people each. Also, there are many water cisterns on the top and probably these cisterns along with a well are the water source for the village below.
From the temple, we took a right to reach to the zenith of the mountain and what a time we had. Though it was cloudy, the rain evaded us, but the wind was blowing like crazy and it almost swept us off our feet, literally! We had to consciously make some effort to keep grounded and a rock perched at the best location had us pose like supermen and superwomen for many pictures. There are scenes and places that are inexplicable and this was one of them; one has to be there to experience it. The vastness of the fort, the serenity except for the swooshing of the wind, the humble swaying of the grass, a few colourful flowers which had sprouted in the rains, the various shades of intoxicating green, the enticing paddy fields below, the command and strength you feel being at such a height, the puny snaking roads below, all of these and more mesmerizes you beyond words and a thankful feeling rises in your heart for mother Nature and its beauty.
We had lunch at the top with the wind singing to us. Post lunch, we embarked again to another plateau right in front of us, towards the windmills. As I said, every edge of the mountain gives you a different view and from here we could see a couple of lakes or reservoirs. Getting closer to the windmills was another high and we sat there for some time gazing at the lazily rotating blades against the lovely backdrop.
This place definitely is a camper’s delight. After a few games and fun and laughter, we dejectedly decided to get back to the hullabaloo of the city. We walked around the periphery of the mountain and were back in almost an hour for the drive back to Kasara station. A Sunday well spent on a date with nature!
|Grazing to delight|
|Soldier at the gates|