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Purandar Fort and Vajragad in Purandar Taluka near Saswad in Pune District

Monday, June 15, 2015

Purandar Fort aka Purandhar Fort is located at the foothills of Purandar village in Purandar Taluka. Purandar village can be reached after walking for 30 minutes from Narayanpur. Narayanpur is located around 8 KM away from Saswad in Pune district.
Datta Mandir Temple in Narayanpur

Initially Manohar, Dominic and I had planned to do this trip, but due to work purposes Manohar had to back out, so it was Dom and Me. Trekking had been on hold for two months time,  thanks to the hot summers.  

As the rains had started we decided to start trekking. 

Dom and I decided to meet at Dadar Station on the Central side so that we could head to Dadar TT to board  any bus plying towards Swargate. As decided we met on Friday night at 10:15 PM. We headed straight to Dadar TT. We started inquiring at the ST bus stand below the bridge as to which bus would take us straight to Swargate. But apart from Shivneri (bus) we couldn't see any other bus there. The bus was named after Shivneri fort in Pune.

We then decided to try our luck and decided to catch buses coming there from either Parel or Mumbai Central ST bus depot. When Manohar and I had gone to Mahableshwar and Pratapgad we had boarded the bus from here. What luck I should say, a bus plying to Pandharpur stopped there. I asked the conductor if it would take us to Saswad, to which he said "Ho, lavkar ye aatmadhe" Meaning yes the bus goes and climb fast. We immediately boarded the bus and headed to the backseats to sit. Though we were offered the first two seats, but I refused as we might not be able to sleep due to the engine noise. 

We paid Rs. 476 jointly towards the cost of the tickets to Saswad.  Point to be noted here,  is that the bus ticket price is. subject to change depending on the type of ST bus (Lal Dabba,  Shivneri or Hirkani) and also the route it is taking to reach a destination.  
Water Heater
Our journey kick started at 10:45 PM, the bus stopped at Kurla, Vashi and Panvel to fill the semi empty bus, only sitting no standees, then it headed out of the city limits via the Mumbai Pune Expressway. The bus driver drove the bus again like a formula one car,  he didn't even stop for the speed breakers,  which had us jumping all the way except on the Expressway.  

Cool breeze blowing made me feel nice, was a refresher from the Mumbai heat. As we were approaching Swargate it started getting very cold, so cold that we had to close the glass of windows in the bus. Sadly no sign of the rains. 

Finally at 3:30 Am we were at Saswad ST bus depot. It was just the two of us who alighted from the bus. The bus stand premises was very dimly lit. A few people we sleeping in its premises, maybe they missed the bus or the bus they want to board was in the morning. Soon we were a part of the crowd. The weather was very cold in the morning,  it was around 20 degrees,  weird in the summers. Again no sign of rain.  
Muddy trail to Purandar Village
At 5:45 AM we inquired with the Depot Master, to which he informed that the first bus is at 6:15 AM. The bus going to Kapurhol, it stops at Narayanpur.  We boarded the bus and this time sat right behind the engine,  at 6:40 AM we were at Narayanpur bus stand.  The tickets cost us Rs. 26 jointly.  The bus driver drove the bus like a formula one car on the narrow curvy roads to reach Narayanpur.  

We asked the locals for instructions and then took off on the muddy road to reach Purandar village.  In 45 minutes we were at Purandar village.  We then started asking the locals for direction to reach the fort.  We were informed about the trek trail and also the road leading to the top.  As we were trekkers we chose the trek trail.  

What we noticed was these unique water heaters,  which each of the household had,  they were all heating water in the morning.  Maybe the temperatures drop that low.  If now the temperature was around 20 degrees,  wondering what will happen in the winters. 
Paddy Fields
We then kick started on our trek,  it was a combination of loose soil,  stones in the shape of steps and rocky surface and finally we were near the wall which had directions to Purandar fort.  It time was now 7:45 AM on my watch.  We were stunned to see that we that climbed the hill so fast.  This is the same point where we took the wrong way up.  Instead of following the trail we walked to the other side and reached the road,  which goes uphill, we walked on the curvy road and finally reached the entrance.  Now this fort is under the control of the ARMY.  They has setup the Army Training Camp here.  So the visiting hours for the fort are from 9 AM to 5 PM everyday.  Camera and Camera phones are not allowed and need to be switched off and surrendered to the jawans (soldiers).  

By the time we reached the entrance the time was 8:15 AM.  So we had to kill time watching the valleys below.  Finally they let us in,  after checking our Identity Cards. The jawans gave instructions to travel to the left,  as the way up the fort is via the left.  
Purandar Fort in a distance
The place is newly acquired by the ARMY and hence is still under construction for their needs.  

There are jawans at every nook and corner,  so be prepared to be watched. Camera's should be placed in the bag.  

There is a statue of Murarbaji Deshpande in the fort premises,  he was a great warrior and the fort commander (killedar) in Shivaji's Era. He fought against Diler Khan a Mughul General for Purandar Fort.   

We saw two structures looking like churches very close to each other.  Which had Dom,  guessing as to why they were built very close to each other.  Though the one near the Main Entrance or Darwaza was open,  and I believe services are held there,  though not on a regular basis.  

Both the stone made structures has wooden ceilings which has survived all this time. They had windows at the side. 
Main Darwaza at Purandar Fort
We then headed to the Main Entrance to the fort.  A series of steps head down, At this point I joined the dots of the puzzle.  The wall we saw below,  where we took the wrong turn to come by road,  maybe this was the correct way to come up the fort.  A point to be noted.  

There is just one small restaurant here,  serving beverages and snacks,  We ate a yummy egg omelette with bajra chapatis instead of Pav complemented by a spicy green chilly chutney  all for the price of Rs.125. BTW the chilly chutney was amazing. Next to the restaurant is a small square shaped well made of stone. The stone used in the construction of the well is very much similar to the one used for the church like structure. The well was deep with a small boundary around it,  so peep in it with a lot of care.  Next to the well is located the Purandeshwar Temple.  A temple dedicated to the Goddess.  We couldn't visit the inside of it,  as restoration work was in progress.  Similarly we had missed out visiting the Mosque and Tomb of Isa Khan in the Humayun Tomb Complex due to restoration work. 

There are a couple of other small temples here apart from other structures on the fort premises,  but these have turned into bunkers for the cadets and entry is restricted.  The jawan (Soldier) will advise you as to where you have to go,  trespassing is not allowed.  
Signboard on the trek trail, you miss out on this, you will take the wrong road uphill
This fort was built during the Bahamani Regime.  Chandrasampat Deshpande acquired the fort was which was later re constructed by Chandrakant Deshpande in 1489. It was later conquered by Nizamshah and then Adilshah. After a battle the fort was conquered by Shivaji.  Sambhaji,  his son was born here on 16th May 1657. In 1665, the fort was attacked by Diler Khan with a infantry of around 5000 men from all sides as per the instructions of Mughul Sardar Jaisingh,  first Vajragad was lost and later Purandar,  Murarbaji and his men fought bravely for it.  Later Shivaji signed a treaty with the Moguls in which he agreed to surrender 23 forts to the Mughuls. The fort was conquered by Aurangzeb after the death of Sambhaji Maharaj.  Shankarji Narayan took control of the fort from the Moghuls. It was later controlled by the Peshwas,  who were given the fort by Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj and finally the British in 1818. Currently in control by INDIAN ARMY.  LOL. 

Finally the time had come for just to deposit our phones with the jawans for a token to be kept safely to retrieve our phones once we are back down. Lose the token, lose the phone is. their motto. The jawan gave us instructions to visit the top of the fort. He also showed us the path to lead to the top.  

We walked on the loose soil finally to reach the steps that lead to the entrance to the topmost part of the fort.  There is a small Maruti temple here. The fortification is in good condition,  but it doesn't cover the entire fort,  but just portions of it plus entry to certain portions is restricted by the ARMY and they have put huge metal panels around, which can't be scaled.  

The top offers a wonderful view of the hill ranges around and also the valley's and water bodies,  but the weather was a bit dull from up here.  Sadly our cameras were deposited so no photography.  
Road up Purandar Fort

The top has got plenty of water tanks which have been re plastered to store water and structures in broken state.   A metal pipe can be used as a railing to explore the structures atop the fort. After exploring the fortification from the side we came up,  we headed to the other side.  We saw another Darwaza there.  Meaning in the past there were two ways to climb up this fort.  Front entrance and Back Entrance. Which is useful in case they were attacked.  

A few meters above we saw a temple there,  a series of steps leads up.  The temple was in the clouds at that point of time.  We decided that we have to pay it a visit and so headed towards it.  After walking for around 20 minutes we were finally near the steps that lead to the top.  The rock cut steps reminded Dom of the Great Wall of China.  Suddenly in the middle of nowhere there are steps to reach the Kedareshwar Temple,  this is the topmost point in the fort premises.  

The temple had a small pink colored diya sand hear it,  it had a small statue of Nandi outside it and the temple itself was painted pink in color.  There is also a structure near the temple,  again no signboards to detect what it is.  A couple of antenna's are placed here,  again entry is restricted due to barbwire placed around it.  

Now we were walking in the clouds,  I couldn't see Dom who was just a few meters away.  Sadly we couldn't see the valley and hill ranges below due to the clouds.  Walking in the clouds.  No sign of the rains again.  Nor any lighting and thundering.  

We then decided to head back to descend the fort.  There was a portion on the fort,  which had three levels of fortification,  one above the other,  a concept similar to what I had seen in Vijaydurg Fort near Devgad in Malvan.  Sadly we couldn't spot any way of getting down there.  

Now the fort had started gathering crowd,  a couple of school children accompanied by teachers,  trekking groups and a few cadets were uphill.  The cadets maybe for training purposes as it is training camp.  

We then headed back to the place where we had deposited our phones,  The guard had instructed us to visit the Samadhi's of Shivaji and Sambhaji a little away,  very much near the way that leads to Vajragad (Rudramal),  the twin fort of Purandar.  Though much smaller the entry is restricted thanks to the ARMY. Nothing much to see at the Samadhi's of Shivaji and Sambhaji. 

The ARMY is re developing the area around the fort as they are building a training camp there.  I would urge you to visit the fort as soon as possible,  God alone knows when entry will be restricted like Versova Fort and Madh Fort in Mumbai.  

My left knee had started paining now,  and hence I couldn't take the trek trail,  so we had to take the roadway down,  it took us little more than an hour's time to reach Purandar Village. 

We then headed off to Narayanpur to board a ST bus to Saswad.  The time was now 1:15 PM. The village was packed with people who had come there to offer prayers at the Datta Mandir.  From Narayanpur there are Tum Tum take one to Saswad ST bus stand at a price of Rs. 15 each.  In a matter of 30 minutes we were at Saswad.  

Dom inquired with the Depot Manager and he informed us that the bus to Mumbai is at 2:30 PM.  We then boarded the Borivali bound bus to head back.  

As we trekked after a longtime,  it had taken its toll on. my knees.  Due to lack of sleep,  I was feeling extremely tired and hence slept most of the journey.  

Finally I alighted at Andheri East on the Highway at around 8 PM to head back home.  

The journey though was tiring it was fun,  he had a good time irrespective of my knee and tiredness.  P.S. Dom was fit like a horse.  

Lohgad, Visapur, Tung, Tikona, Shivneri, Sinhagad, Indurigad are some of the forts I have been too in Pune District. 

Looking forward to Rajmachi trip with office colleagues soon.  Keep reading.  :)


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