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Visapur near Lohgad near Lonavala

Monday, October 13, 2014

It had been a while, since I had been on a trek. So wanted to do a easy one and so Manohar and I finalized on Visapur near Lohgad and Bhaje Caves near Lonavala. 
Directions to Lohgad from Lonavala
 I had been to his fort around a decade ago with Neel. Though I have been to Lohgad a couple of times in the past. Have to admit that Lohgad is a easy fort to trek as there are steps right till the top of the fort. The only difficult part here is Vinchu Katta (Scorpions Tail) where too many people don't go.
So even if we don't make it to the top of Visapur we had a backup plan. 
As decided we met at Ghatkopar Station in the west at 6:15 AM. Manohar had bought his car along. We decided to travel by car. 
Manohar's car parked at the foot of Visapur Fort
Lonavala can be reached by train and ST buses plying to Pune. But while returning these buses and trains are packed as they depart either from Pune or places beyond Pune. So when you are tired post the trek we need a place to sit and not stand and hunt for a mode of transport home. And if you have a car that runs on both petrol and CNG , there is nothing like it as it leads in reduction of transportation cost. 
Visspur Fort
As it was early in the morning we couldn't get breakfast, we decided not to waste time searching for a place to eat but to zoom off to Lonavala as there would be plenty of options there. 
Muddy Trail to Visapur
I love early morning journeys as the roads are traffic free. We watched the sun rise as we zoomed off on the Mumbai Pune Highway. Though we had to exit at Lonavala.
Fortification of Visapur
When I last came here, I had boarded the Chennai Express and alighted at Malavali Station. One station after Lonavala Station on the way to Pune. From there we have walked all the way to the base of Lohgad. The initial road was made of tar which later converted into one made of stones all the way to Lohgad. 
The hut from where you need to take a left to go to Visapur
But now we were travelling by car, so had to come by a motoroable road till Visapur. Which I believe did existed even then. The road had to come from Lonavala as it was a stoney road from Malavali station.
Checked google maps and exited the Mumbai Pune Expressway to head to Lonavala We had to travel on the Dudhiware Khind Road to reach Lohgad. As we didn't have breakfast and were not sure when lunch would be served, we decided to break for breakfast at Kamat's at 8:15 AM. 
We had Masala Dosa, Idli Sambhar and Tea for breakfast. Collected some biscuit and cake packets at Lonavala to have at Visapur.
Asked a couple of locals for directions to reach Dudhiware Khind Road. Finally we were on the Didhiware Khind Road, on this road there are signboards leading you to Lohgad. It is a small tiny tar road which curves at every nook and corner, it also has its share of high's and low's , but the road offer's a wonderful view of the hillside, Lohgad fort, the hills and valley's in a distance and the villages on the way. 
Manohar climbing via the waterfall track to Visapur
We reached Lohgaon the base village to Lohgad Fort. Refreshments , snacks and even lunch is available here but at a premium fee. A ten minute walk from here leads to the base of Visapur . The time was now 9:20 AM on my watch. 
Caves atop Vissapur Fort
Note that there is no base village for Visapur. have to comment that the stoney road which we used to take while coming from Malavali station has now been replaced by the tar road. Tourism has started flourishing which is a good sign for the village of Lohgaon. Another source of income for them. 
We geared up and started on our trek. The weather was just pleasant. Which is good else our body batteries would have started draining as the heat at 9 AM is also madness. 

There is a small hut at the base of Visapur, from there a muddy trail starts to Visapur. We need to keep walking on this trail till you reach another small hut on your left side. it takes around 15 minutes to reach the second hut. The road divides into two here. Take a left here and then the first left. Now this is the tricky part, there is no signboard here. So if you miss this then you will be walking on the plateau like we did. We walked for around 20 minutes  an realised that we are going around the fort but not climbing it. We returned back to the hut to start all over again.  
Bones found on Fort premises
Once you take the left, it is a climb via the waterfall route. Again no sign if we were on the right track or not. Finally a red arrow on the rock confirmed that we were on the right track. Now this road is full of asorted stones from which the waterfalls during the rains. Suddenly there was thich forestation all over us. The forest was so thich that the sunlight could't penetrate it. But that was short lived and we were back in the sun. 
As you go higher the climb gets steeper, plus we had water trickling down the rocks which made the climb difficult. Note there is no shade here and temperature had started rising. We took plenty of breaks and finally the walls of the fort were clearly visible to us. That offered the last bit of motivation and finally we were atop the fort. We see two caves here. Though one was filled with water the other had graffiti. The time was now 11:20 AM on my watch. 
Manohar and Me
History books state that this fort was built somewhere between 1713-1720  by Balaji Vishwanath. the first Peshwa of Maratha Empire. Lohgad fort was built first, Visapur ws built later. But the history of both forts are inter-conncted.
Lohgad had turned out to be the fort that housed the treasury of the Marathas. The British understood this and made plans to attack the fort. In 1818, British conquered Visapur. As Visapur is one a higher ground in comparison to Lohgad, the British placed their cannons atop Visapur and bombarded Lohgad. Thus both forts landed under British control.  
Sculpture at mMain Entrance
Like always we had to explore the entire fort and we had little time on hand. We decided to walk, if not on the walls the near the walls to get a good view of the fort from both the inside and the outside. This fort is bigger than Lohgad in all aspects. The fort is not fully fortified as some of the walls have collapsed over the decades. 
The walls offered a good view of Lohgad, the other hill ranges and valleys around us. Again there is hardly and trees atop this fort. It's a plateau with green grass all over it. We also located a couple of bones. Not sure who they belong to. 
The Main Entrance to Visapur
The fort has plenty of water bodies which are still filled with water. It also houses three fortified structures which I guess were houses or store houses in the forts glory days. Certain stretches of the fort were filled with flowers. Now don't ask the names as I don't know. 
Water bodies atop the fort
We located cattle atop the fort grazing on the grass and sipping on the waters from the water bodies. Which meant that some of the water bodies had portable water. Now question I have in my head is "How did the cows get on top?" I am sure they have not come up the way we came up. As I could not see any cowdung on that path. So there is another way of entering this fort. 
Carved stones atop the fort
Finally we located the main entrance to the fort. It had the sculpture of Hanuman on the rocks. A couple of boys were coming up that route. They were shepherds, their cattle were grazing atop the fort. They informed us that it route is extremely easy to climb and the base village is Malavali. This route near the entrance was slippery as the water was still trickling down the hills. Sadly we couldn't take this path as we were not sure which village it lead too and to top it, Manohar's car was parked on the other side. 
Structures atop the fort
Took photos of lifeforms, cattle and us. No sign of cannons? Finally we located cannons here. 
From one of the points on the fort we could see Manohar's car parked in a distance. 

We had refreshments and finally headed back to our start point. The time was 1:50 PM on my watch. We again had to go down the steep waterfall routes. Slowly and steadily in the hot scorching heat we made our descend. Our water supply was over but I didn't give up. In an hours time we were down. 
Lohgad in a distance
We dragged ourselves to the car. Yippee finally we made it. Now we had to stop at Lohgaon to have a chilled colddrink. Got ourselves Thumps Up for 40 bucks. We headed off to Lonavala for lunch, though it was time for snacks we still wanted to try our luck.

This is the most expensive lunch we have had so far on a trek. We had ordered Veg Kolhapuri along with Roti's at Kumar's restaurant. The cost of Roti was Rs.40 each. We had 6 roti's in all. Cost of the roti's was double that of the Veg Kolhapuri. Can you beat that. The fuel expenses to and fro, to Lonavala was lesser than the cost of lunch at this place. What a shame. 
View of Manohar's car in a distance
After having our expensive lunch we decided to head back to Mumbai. 

This was a good trek, but the climb took its toll on our legs.   


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