This Sunday I decided to avoid the cycle ride and do a trek instead. This was because Bawa - the actual owner of the cycle, from whom I have ‘borrowed’ it (wink wink)- requested me to go for a trek with him. As both of us could not fit on one cycle, we decided to drop the cycle and do only the trek.
‘But where shall we go?’ he asked.
‘Don’t worry re.’ I replied ‘I shall consider and decide on the day’ and spent Saturday evening watching ‘Deadpool’ and drinking a lot of Single malt whisky.
On Sunday morning we met up at Vashi, and had an excellent breakfast at a roadside idli wada stall along the highway. After reading ‘Trek the Sahyadris’ and consulting with SHE-WHO-MUST-BE-OBEYED I decided on Visapur fort.
Visapur fort had many things going for it – it was easily approachable by the expressway and NH4, we could bypass Lonavla city and avoid the crowds, I knew the way as it was close to Lohagad where I had been several times, it was a fort I had been wanting to visit for a long time, it would be much less crowded than the nearby Lohagad, and we could visit Sheetal da dhaba for an excellent lunch after the trek!
The easily findable part of it was crucial – as we were two navigation challenged people, who had managed to get lost and take the wrong turn on a single lane highway in Ladakh, and had reached all the way to Tanglangla pass before we realised that we were going the wrong way.
And sure enough, here also I managed to miss the turn to Malavali station inspite of having been there umpteen times, and had to take a U turn to get back on the right track. We drove past Bhaje caves and up the ghat and found the turnoff to Visapur. We parked the car there, and started walking.
Visapur and Lohagad are twin forts which guard the Mandavi river and the approach to Pune. Out of the two, Lohagad is much older, being in existence since the time of the Satavhanas – which would make it about 2000 years old.
Visapur was built much later – in 1713 – in the reign of Balaji Vishwanath, the first Peshwa. Unfortunately, the Maratha empire did not last very long after that, and the British conquered the fort in 1818, using 380 european and 800 native soldiers and a battering train summoned from konkan, artillery from Chakan and 2 british battalions. On 4th march 1818 Visapur was occupied, and the British bombarded Lohagad fort from there and took over that as well.
After that, they blew up the whole fort with artillery and dynamited the entrances so that it would be unusable to the Marathas ever again. So there is nothing remaining in the fort but some walls and few ruined buildings.
Now, two and a half centuries after that day, the fort is so forgotten that even finding a path to the fort is difficult. If not for directions by the villagers and the arrows painted by trekking groups, you cannot even find the way up. We walked right past the turn and went on for quite some time before the villagers turned us back.
The stairway to the fort has been completely destroyed, and it becomes a waterfall in the rains. It was great fun to climb up that.
We reached the top and we were the only people there. It was an amazing feeling to wander around the deserted and desolate top of the fort. It was green and rainy and foggy – an absolute paradise.
After exploring the top for some time, we made our way down the waterfall again, and due to the rains the water flow was much more. It was great fun to make our way down that way.
We were completely soaked when we got down, and it was great to change out of wet clothes and get into the car. And ho – now for Sheetal dhaba and amazing food!
Bawa was so tired that he fell asleep in the car immediately in the return journey and snored all the way back to Vashi.
I blog about my travels - and the thoughts they set off! Sometimes the simplest destinations can be the most thought-provoking!