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[Raigad] : to a worthy capital in history
Nov 19, 2010 03:39 PM 22342 Views


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Place: Raigad

Nearest town: Mahad, Mangaon, Pune

Distance: 143 Kilometres from Pune

Attractions: Natural Spectacles, Landscapes, lake, fortifications, fort, archaeological monuments

I remember how sceptical I was the day before. Earlier we had zeroed on Malshej ghat, and I was pretty sure that the place will not be that great after the departure of Monsoon. A friend suggested about Raigad and we were still unsure. Not many people of the group have a particular liking towards climbing forts and treks. Keeping those souls in dark, we planned for the Raigad finally. On a beautiful winter morning when the sun was up we started the journey at around 0800 hrs in the morning.

We started the journey on the well known roads of Tamhini. I have been on those roads quite a few times now and I knew the bad condition they were in. Fortunately that rains didn’t do much damage to the remains of them, and we could go smoothly till Nizampur. We were already late when we reached there and upon a local shop owner’s advice we decided to take a detour which was supposed to cut short our distance by 20+ kilometres.

There was a board placed by Govt. of Maharashtra which warned us that the road was under construction but people from village assured us the road to be good. None, not even the driver knew beforehand the perils that followed. The road we took started narrowing soon after. At one point it became just a single lane path of soil. And there I saw her; standing gracefully waiting for the passengers, my all time love; the red State Transport bus. We were amazed to see those buses standing there, serving the remote villages of the state. After the ST stop, the road worsened, and we started panicking, including even our driver.

We enquired about the road to some local villager, his answer confirmed the road was correct, and he even said the road is a little bad a few more kilometres. That was a serious blow, considering we had already frightened of the road till now, and he said that road would worsen. Somehow we cleared the patch and we reached Pachad, the base village for fort Raigad.

Nowadays they have a rope way which has eliminated the need to actually climb the fort. I agree that the real pleasures of such places are in the ascents, but we were already late and we wanted to visit as many points on the fort. So at least for the climb we decided to go on the rope way.

I have not had many experiences on rope ways. This one was a memorable one, as the whole thing is still new to me. It’s fascinating to see how you are suspended on a single cable which takes you smoothly to spellbinding heights. Gradually you see the base getting hazy below. The destination is still not completely visible, and you get a marvellous view from that point. Only the cables which support your cabin and also your life are obstructing the clean vision of the picturesque sky and the mountains on the foreground. The monsoon has done its job splendidly and those mountains are covered with thick layers of green. The speed of that cabin makes sure that you can capture each and every bit of it. The destination is not a obscure silhouette any more and a colours start filling in the outlines of the upper base. Reluctantly you step out of the cabin, mentally thanking the Lord for the safe and beautiful journey.

I have not visited many forts yet. This was first time to visit Raigad as well. I must say that it is one of the best forts and has archeologically rich fortifications I have ever seen. I said the same when I last visited Lohgad and Pratapgad, but Raigad truly tells you why it was once the capital of Maratha Empire. There were guided tours available and many of the arrived tourists were availing them as well. We didn’t hire any guide though; we went on exploring the fort ourselves. We saw the market area, the place of the throne, The Jagadishwar temple, in which I went in to pray in solitude for a while. Then we moved on to visit the sacred Samadhi of emperor Shivaji, and of his loyal dog Waghya.

You need to go in such a temples made of stone; you need to go in the central section. You should chant a deep Om in that sacred place. You should sit there near the idol in the ground. You should feel the coldness of the stone structure. Then you should imagine how kings and queens once sat at that very place and offered prayers to idol. A spiritual ecstasy is not easy to attain they say, wrong. Do this and feel the change in your mental spectrum. Feel the calmness that comes progressively to your soul. Experience the beauty of those feelings; take a deep breath, calm down…

The feeling when you see those astounding structures is deeply humbling. Times like these when we can’t build a bridge that sustains a month for international games. You admire the dedication in building such supreme architectural marvels at such heights with medieval tools. You admire the talent of the architects who created mazes to make taking over hard for the enemy. You admire the attention given to minute details so that resulting monument looks not only beautiful but also fulfilling its practical purpose. And you also admire the intentions of the tourists who do not deface these national ancestries by writing names on it. You also admire the archaeological survey of India for taking care and protecting the sanctity of such monuments. Invariably you thank the almighty, for giving you birth in the bloodlines of the moral, proud and valiant Kings.

We were a little late when we finished with half the spots on the fort. We had already decided on descending on foot. So we moved on to the stone steps which were to take us down to the base of the fort once again. We exhausted two digital cameras and one cell phone in capturing the minute details and overall essence of the trip. By the time we reached at the base, it was already dark. Unfortunately we had descended to a different location than that of the rope way and, no phones when you need one, thanks to Airtel, we had no ways of a telephonic communications with our driver. Hence couple of guys went on foot to meet the driver.

The descent made everyone tired and so, vibrant and jubilant people in the morning dozed off in no time. Only a few remained awake to make sure we were on the right path. I was awake for half of the return distance and the car stereo playing Pink Floyd concluded the entire trip perfectly well.

It’s funny when I think about it now. It’s already a week late when I penned this one down, but the excitement is not yet faded. This time due to time crunch I could not explore much of the fort, and it has remained like a future flag for the place. Now it has come to me that being sceptical at the eve of the trip is but natural. Last minute changes in the plans are mostly for the better outcomes.

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