In my memory, this would remain registered as one the most spontaneously planned and quickly executed treks. One fortunate Friday (read ‘no work in office’), one of my senior colleagues suggested a trek to Kenjalgad & Raireshwar. I was in for it right from the beginning because the trek to Makarangadh scheduled on Sunday had got cancelled. We asked around other people who might be interested, the final count came down to a tiny group of five people: My colleague who’d suggested the trek, his wife, me and two more colleagues.
I really hadn’t seen what 5 AM looked like ever since my final semester engineering exams. I set out of home at about 5:45 AM and drove through the cold morning to reach Katraj, which was our starting point for the trek. At Katraj, we got into my colleagues car, and we set out towards our destination: Bhor district located at a distance of about 50 Kms from Pune.
Kenjalgad is a reasonably simple trek; it involves a fair deal of walking and has just a few slippery patches towards the top of the fort. Raireshwar is even simpler as the walking part is lesser and the climb to the top is made easier because of the steps provided.
The temple at Raireshwar is famous for its historical importance. It is believed that, Shivaji Maharaj took the oath of Hindavi Swarajya in this temple at the age of 16 in 1645. It is said that he had cut his little finger and taken the oath by dripping blood onto the Shivling in the temple.
So yeah…..Our schedule, for the benefit of anyone planning to cover these two forts in a day, was something like this;
7:30 AM : Departure from Pune
8:30 AM : A brief stop for breakfast
10:00 AM : Started the climb from the base of Kenjalgad
12: 00 PM : Reached the top of the fort and spent some time there
1:00 PM : Descend downward began
2: 30 PM : Reached the base again and started the climb to Raireshwar
We had parked our car at the base point common to both Kenjalgad and Raireshwar.
3:30 PM : At the top of Raireshwar
4:00 PM : After about 2 kilometers, Reached the home of our hosts for lunch in the village
5:15 PM : Journey back to the base
6:15 PM : Back at the base
A few pictures…
This picture captures half of our trek, from base at the extreme right to the Kenjalgad Fort at the left… Thankfully the weather was kind to us throughout this long walk up to the top of the fort. This whole stretch we did not spot even a single soul, I think this is, and will remain for me, the best part of trekking – Enormous spaces devoid of adulteration of any kind….. Even in the long barren patches, you can see nature in its mystic glory…..especially in the monsoons, the forts surrounded by greens in all shades; seem so perfectly in sync with the universe……
Our generous hosts at the Raireshwar Village Shri Gopal Rao Jangam with his family…
(From L-R Laghoo, Rahul, Anand, Ankush, Mr & Mrs Gopal Jangam with little baby Markarand, Anamika and the elder girl, whose name I can’t seem to recollect… )
The food…..ah the most lip smackingly-awesome food…….and as I always say after every amazing meal like this; Annadata Sukhi Bhava :) (God bless the providers of this meal…..)
We had just about witnessed a fine-looking sunset from the top of Raireshwar and begun our journey back to the base, when we saw this lady walking slowly towards the village. I asked her if I could take a picture of hers, she said nothing, and I took her faint smile for a yes. There was such a delicate grace in the way she put her stick down and readjusted the ends of her sari over her head in acknowledgement of my request. The style is understated and the charm stems from her humility…….. subtle, hence classic.
Another thought crossed my mind, while taking these pictures, people in the rural areas are so uninhibited. Say while walking through the road, if a guy walks up to you and asks you if he could take your pic, a thousand thoughts would cross your mind at once (What? Why? Why me? Etc etc)…..But just look at the smiles in the all the pictures above, they shine straight through to their eyes……sometimes ignorance really is bliss…. The lesser we know, the lesser there is room for doubts and fears…..
So all in all, a wonderful trek….and a day well spent and well concluded by scenic drive through Wai…..
Every trek, my naturally lethargic soul makes me ask myself this question at least once : “Why?….Why am I subjecting myself to this physical strain?… it’s totally uncalled for while I could be sleeping away to glory at home and waking up to a nice late breakfast on this lazy Sunday morning :) ”……. And the answer every single time, comes to me when I get to the peak…..It is for that view from the top, looking down at the stunning green blanket from above……the graceful contours of the mountains…….the outlines of the peaks casually flirting with the horizon…….it is for those few split seconds of solitude under the abundance of the blue skies….for the soothing symphony of the wind, which i seem to have lost the ear for, in the maddening traffic of the city……
And lastly, because when I’m standing on the edge of the peak, for that split second, something tells me I can take the leap…..