Saturday, May 11, 2019

Uttarakhand - I - The making of the journey

Kedarnath trek
The mobile phone, which was idle for the most part of our journey, rang suddenly. The call was from a friend who had gone ahead. The friend who was along with me picked up the phone and put it on speaker.

We answered in somewhat of an excited manner, "Hey man!!!, Where have you reached ???".

Our friend on the other end spoke in a sombre tone, "There is a piece of good news and bad news".

I answered, "Hmmm...OK, What is it ???".

Our friend on the phone said, "The good news is, I have reached the base camp !!!".

"Wow!!!! Cool man!!!", we exclaimed.

Our friend not being affected by the euphoria from our end, responded calmly, "The bad news is, our cottages are 6 more km from here".

My companion friend and I looked at each other with disbelief, "How could that be ??", we enquired.

Our equally despondent friend said, " I have enquired with someone at the base camp, and they advised, our prebooked cottages were far and it would be better to stay put in one of the tents at the base camp".

We were perplexed, what to do, the sun had almost set for the day, we ourselves were quite behind, and to make matters worse, it started to drizzle & the call got disconnected as the network died.   

Such were the scenes from our trip to Kedarnath early this year. It had been 8 long years since our trip to the North. Over these years, whenever we met, the discussion always came up, whether we shall ever be able to replicate our North trip of 2011. We have had some family trips, but, never the Himalayan journey - a trekking expedition, which always seemed elusive. There were many such conversations of returning back to the Himalayas. One who has been there will admit a certain unexplained feeling that makes you want to go, experience the Himalayas again. We always wanted to do the Amarnath Yatra again, this time from the Pahalgam route, since, some of our friends had missed the magical and out of the world experience of the Pahalgam route. But, looking at the state of affairs in Kashmir in recent years, we dropped the idea. It turned out to be the right decision, because, Amarnath Yatra was called off this year mid-way.

There were clearly two distinct trains of thoughts among the group - Adventure & Spiritual, which made the core basis for the choice of the destination. Our most adventurous friend often said, "Let's go somewhere, where there is trekking involved". He had his priorities clear. Whereas, there was another line of thought, the destination needed to be a spiritual one, which anybody could do it. Which I agree to an extent, I often wondered, a journey without a spiritual exaltation, how exciting could that be, reach some mountain top and return back. May be its fun, but, I feel something is amiss. After going through a lot of difficulties, crossing one's own boundaries, physical and mental, to reach the lap of God is an experience, no other journey can ever match. Perhaps, its an experience from our own journey to Amarnath caves, that I relate to.

Early February this year, in one such conversation, Kedarnath - Badrinath came up. We felt this could be a trip where the contrasting ideas could converge. Kedarnath has a good 16 km trek, with a lot of options including horses, helicopter, pitthu, palki options available. And Badrinath can be reached by car. This could be the right destination. We quickly bounced the idea around. And luckily, it fell through with everyone. Quickly an itinerary was formed. We also included the Chopta trip with the famous Tungnath temple trek added to it, with the disclaimer, whoever has the fuel to make it after Kedarnath could go ahead. Those, who wished to take rest could enjoy the hotel stay. We included Rishikesh in the itinerary, as a place to relax after the intense & physically demanding days preceding to it. There was an option to do some river rafting as well. Here is the itinerary that finally took shape. One may think the itinerary is quite tight, considering there is no room for any unexpected delays, especially travelling in the mountains.
Itinerary map
  • 11th May Reach Delhi
  • 11th May Delhi to Haridwar overnight train
  • 12th May Reach Haridwar, sightseeing, leave for Sonprayag
  • 13th May Kedarnath yatra, Overnight stay at Kedarnath
  • 14th May Return from Kedarnath, proceed to Chopta, Overnight stay at Chopta
  • 15th May Trek to Tungnath temple, Return back, proceed to Badrinath
  • 16th May Badrinath Darshan. Proceed towards Rishikesh, Overnight stay at any mid-point (Karnaprayag/ Srinagar)
  • 17th May Reach Rishikesh, overnight stay at Rishikesh
  • 18th May Relax at Rishikesh, sightseeing, Ganga aarti, overnight stay
  • 19th May Travel to Dehradun. Dehradun to Delhi by train. Night flight to Home
We booked airline tickets and train tickets. Our stay at some of the places was also booked. Our rooms were booked at GMVN Rampur ( Ph No. - 9868006646). This is close to Sonprayag. We booked the Kedardome cottages - near Helipad (Ph.No. - 9412045813) at Kedarnath. It was said, it is quite close to the temple. In Chopta, we had booked our rooms at a hotel called Mayadeep Chopta, which offered a spa, herbal massage. After, the strenuous trek of Kedarnath, we felt, this could be a good place to halt. Rest of the places, we decided to book based on the fly, based on where we were at that point. We also registered ourselves for the yatra on the GMVN website.  For our travel itself, we reached out to GMVN tourism, however, their package didn't work for us. It was with stay and travel all-inclusive. However, we opted with a travel agent based out of Haridwar, Yatracare Tour and Travel (+91 9897 63 6681, +91 9045 33 7002, + 1334 22 0999). The office was just opposite to the Haridwar Railway Station and run by a person named as Gurvinder. And the estimates stated by him were found to be reasonable. But, this was only for the vehicle and travel. And any sightseeing was separate costs.

And with that, after eight long years, our journey to the Himalayas was set in motion. Each one of us, started some physical preparation, a little bit of running, walking, yoga etc. We used to egg each other on to keep up the good work. The motivation for the journey was enough to leave all the laziness behind and try to be in good shape for the event. As the event came closer, some of us, who had booked on Jet Airways found ourselves in a quandary. The airlines went bankrupt and got shut down. We had to rebook our tickets on another airline. We made all the purchases for the journey, right from warm socks to trekking shoes, rainwear, even a head torch. The night before is always the longest one, last-minute packing, deciding what to keep, what to leave out is never easy. There was excitement, at the same time some anxiety. A lot of things have changed in these 8 years, are we ready for the task? But, we all knew within, we were better prepared this time, as we knew, one key thing about these journeys, "Always expect the unexpected".  

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Goa - How to go, places to see

Once in a while, all domestic airlines start a price warfare. Tickets to popular destinations are sold at throw away prices, which mean travellers have a bonanza. Even frequent train travellers start thinking of the airline option. It is a win-win situation for all. A similar event happened early 2014. Sometime in January, all airline companies started this price battle. Obviously, some of our close friends got interested and started making elaborate plans. With the same motive, I had called a close friend to convince him about the plan. I still remember our conversation quite vividly. 

"Hey, do you know about the airline ticket rates going down? Others are thinking about a holiday plan sometime in April. So, what do you say, don't think we can get air tickets this low!!!” I explained to him, hoping he would buy into the plan.

"Yeah, I know about it.", he replied calmly.

"OK Great! So, what do you say?”

"That's good. By the way, I already bought tickets."

"What? Where?”



"Yeah, I already had a plan with a tours-n-travels company. I thought why not now." 

"Would you join?"

There was a pause in the conversation. 

Well, the other plan for April never took off, the air ticket prices had rocketed as well. So, eventually, I did join him. In fact, the tickets cost a lot more for me than what it cost for my friend. And it was just a matter of a day. So, that's how the plan to Goa took off. 

How to Go: 
By train:  Goa is well connected via two major stations Vasco-da-gama and Madgaon Junction. Trains from across the country travel to Goa on a frequent basis.  For people travelling from Mumbai, there are plenty of trains from 2000 to 2300 hrs, which arrive next day at Madgaon early hours around 600-900 hrs. 

By road: Details of road travel from Mumbai to Goa can be found in the blog - Yes, its the same route that Sameer, Akaash and Sid took in DCH. I am not sharing the details again, just sharing the video :) 

By air: Goa has an airport - Dabolim International airport. Flights from domestic as well as international shores arrive in Goa, which is quite popular with Indians as well as foreigners alike. Goa is a premier holiday destination. As you reach the airport, the setting outside isn't that great. There is a small restaurant just outside. One may have light snacks and cool drinks. There is the usual chaos of taxi drivers outside, with each one trying to lure you in to take their taxi. Government must take certain steps to curtail such behaviour, when dealing with tourists, especially foreigners. It shows our country in poor light. Unfortunately, except for Kerala, I have found it to be the same outside airports and even railway stations. There is a pre-paid taxi counter as well. We took one which cost us Rs.900* to Mapusa, that's where our hotel was. Although, rented scooters are best way to roam around the place, we had opted for a taxi. White coloured taxis with yellow registration plates, that is the signature of a tourist taxi in Goa. You get tour packages with such tourist taxis for all major tourist destinations in North & South Goa.

Places to see:
Our first leg of sightseeing started with North Goa. We started our journey after having a nice sumptuous breakfast at our hotel. Our first sightseeing was at a place which Goa is known for - the high seas. We had gone for a unique boat ride. 

Our tour guide-cum-driver took us to the narrow bay on the Aguada Siolim road near Nerul river. On our way, he showed us the Kingfisher villa. He mentioned it being the venue of Kingfisher Calendar photo shoots & IPL auctions. The villa had this massive door, almost making a statement on the kind of king-sized life the owner lived. It was closed though. But, that didn't stop us from peeking inside. It’s only when the guide reminded us that the calendar shoot happens once in a year, and not throughout the year, that's when we asked him, in a rather disappointing tone, "Aur kitna door hain?" How much far? (to our destination)
Boat ride
Soon we arrived at the jetty. We took the tickets for the boat ride. The tickets for the boat ride cost us Rs. 50* per person. We were provided with bright orange coloured life jackets. It was a 12-seater motor boat. There were two boatmen, who helped us get on the boat. We were seated at the back side of the boat.  As the boat started, we got all excited, purely, due to the unique nature of the boat ride.

The boat started slowly and went past the headland. Soon it made its way to the middle of the sea. Meanwhile, the boatman doubled up as our tour guide. We went past a massive old oil rig, which was a unique sight. The boatman showed some of Goa's famous landmarks that were visible from the sea. We saw the famous Aguada fort & its light tower. He went on to show us the Raj Bhawan & even the Central Jail. We hardly listened to his commentary, as we were busy clicking pictures. And suddenly there was silence...

The boat had stopped right in the middle of the sea. We turned around to check what was going on. There was another motorboat facing our boat. The boatman from the other boat and our boatman were talking in a low voice. The other boatman pointed to something far in the sea. Everyone in the boat including our boatmen looked in that direction. We didn't have a clue to what was happening, but, it did catch our attention. At that time, a boatman from a third boat, which was at quite a distance from the two boats, yelled something in their native language. At that very instant all three boats started racing at frenetic speeds. The speeds were such that they were almost flying in the air. It did become scary to be racing at such speeds.  Everyone in the boat held on to whatever they could. And then suddenly they dropped speed and started staring at the water, searching for something. And then one of the boatmen shouted at the peak of his voice, pointing towards the sea, "There it is!!!” Right, from the middle of the boats, out came two Dolphins! The three boats started chasing the mammal. It was like a dolphin hunt. The hunter instinct of the boatman was at display. It surely got our adrenaline pumping too. Two dolphins jumping out of the middle of Arabian sea were sights to behold. This sudden stops and rapid starts went on for quite a while, with everyone chipping in, trying to find the next location in the sea where the dolphin would pop up. Phew!!It was quite a ride...

Aguada fort and Light tower: 
Next up was the much talked about early 17th century Portuguese fort - Aguada fort. We treated ourselves to some fresh lime juice just outside the fort entrance. It was really a much-needed energy tonic, especially in the sweltering heat. There were shops selling juices, cold drinks, fruits, cucumber, hats & even clothes. We got ourselves some hats. Much like the state of most forts in India, there was no specific entrance so to speak. People just started walking through a wide-open space. We could see a few walls made of large stone bricks. With a few turns here and there, we are in the middle of a massive court yard. The fort built by the Portuguese served as a bastion to guard against any invasions from the Marathas and the dutch. The fort was named after the Portuguese word ‘Agua’ meaning water; it was named so because the area around the fort was rich with freshwater springs which supplied water to the ships that stopped by. It also contained a light tower, modernised in 1976. The lighthouse on the fort is oldest of its kind in Asia and offers breath-taking panoramic view of lush greenery and beautiful ocean. The view of Arabian sea from the fort was breath taking to say the least. Several Bollywood movies are shot at Fort Aguada, making it a popular destination for Hindi film buffs along with history loving tourists. 
Baga beach

Calunghute, Baga, Anjuna, Vagator : The rest of the day was spent visiting the four famous beaches of North Goa. Although, more time could have been spent on each of the beaches, however, we were on a tight schedule & had to wrap up North Goa in a day. Each of the beaches had their own distinct character that separated one from the other. Calunghute and Baga appeared to be the most commercial of the beaches. The entrance of Calunghute had a vast expanse of shops on either side of the road leading to the entrance. Shops selling variety of goods right from clothes, hats to even local liquor. No prizes for guessing which shops attracted most crowds. The beach had lots of activity going on. There was an array of shacks spread out over the beach serving drinks, snacks for beach revellers. We didn't spend too much time at Calunghute, so we moved to the next one - Baga beach. There is no clear demarcation as to where Calunghute ends and Baga starts. One of the most popular of the beaches of North Goa, Baga offered adventure sports like para gliding and para sailing, motor boats. Unlike other beaches, Baga had a lot of foreigners sunbathing. Naturally, we decided to wind off at Baga. We took a shack and spent some time relaxing on the beach. There were some sea guards in their jeeps keeping a close watch for any untoward accident, since the tides were getting bigger. The atmosphere was like a party with the neighbouring restaurants playing loud music. After spending some time at Baga, we decided to move on. The next two beaches Anjuna & Vagator were not as loud as the prior two. However, they were lot picturesque than them, the kind of beaches where you would sit back and just watch the waves.
Anjuna Flea Market
For Anjuna, you need to climb down the cliff, as the sea is down below, battering the rocks. Most people would settle on the rocks enjoying the sea breeze with waves kissing one's feet. There are lots of shops at the top. We treated ourselves to some cold drinks and refreshing lime juice. Anjuna is famous for its flea market. Although, we didn't go to the market, it is open only on Wednesdays. However, I would recommend to check with the locals, in case it is open on other days. Then, we went to the final beach of the day - Vagator. It certainly wasn't the biggest of the beaches, we graced that day. However, there was a unique feel to the beach. Probably, the calmest of the lot. Didn't find any shacks. The best thing about the beach was the breeze. It was already past dusk when we reached Vagator. So, it was slightly getting chillier when we were at the beach. We spent some time at the beach before moving on.

Basilica of bom jesus
Basilica of Bom Jesus 
The next day was spent visiting South Goa. We visited one of the finest examples of Jesuit architectures - the basilica of Bom Jesus church. The title 'Basilica' is bestowed upon large churches that are important as places of pilgrimage or for a specific devotion such as to a saint. In this church, the saint happens to be 16th century saint St.Francis Xavier, whose mortal remains are present there. The body is kept for public viewing every 10 years (last kept in 2014). As we approached the church, there were urchins selling some candles. We took a few of them & entered the church. We lit the candles in one of the inner chambers. The architecture inside was quite unique. We could see the body kept in a casket at a height. Although, the church is not in the best of shapes, but, it was far better considering the era in which it was built in. Even present day, it attracts thousands of visitors. 

Mangeshi Temple
Mangeshi temple: Next stop was the famous Mangeshi temple. We reached Mangeshi temple going through some old narrow lanes. As with any other temples, there were shops selling flowers, prasad outside. We took some flowers from an old lady and climbed the stairs to the temple. There was a shoe stand where we left our footwear. That's when we realised, how hot it was that day, it almost burnt our feet. The temple had this tall structure called deepstambha in front of it, within the temple complex. As we went inside the temple, we found there was a puja going on. The temple was in a good shape, especially considering it to be a 400-year-old temple. It gave a glimpse of the pre-Portuguese days of old Goa, which can barely be seen nowadays. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple has a prominent Nandi bull. After our share of prayers, we got down, spent some time eating some raw mango pieces and some बोर fruit with a glass of fresh lime juice to wash it down. Yeah, we kept ourselves well hydrated throughout our trip.

Panjim jetty Afternoon was spent shopping and having our meals at restaurants near Panjim jetty. There were some ships along Panjim jetty, well, can't call them ships, as they were not big enough for ships, but can’t call them boats either, as they were bigger than boats. Gambling is permitted in Goa, these boats had these huge casinos on them. One had to purchase tickets to those casinos to enter. Obviously, we had no interests to part with our money, we chose to give it a miss. 

Donna Paula jetty Then we visited the famous Donna Paula jetty, especially for young ones and couples. It's also called the lover's paradise. There are a lot of mysterious stories about a lady named Donna Paula, after whom the jetty was named. One legend has it that she was the lady-in-waiting of the Governor-General's wife, and in course of time the Governor fell victim to her beauty and charms. They were found out and the governor's enraged wife had her stripped and bound and rolled over the cliff, into the sea, wearing only her string of pearls, a gift of love from the Governor. The fishermen of the area have a marvellous collection of ghost stories about Donna Paula. On moonlit nights, they say, on pitch dark nights, say others at the stroke of midnight, she rises from the sea and roams the area, wearing a string of pearls and nothing else. Seems straight out of a Bollywood plot. As a matter of fact, the famous movie of yesteryear Ek Duje Ke Liye was shot there. 

Miramar beach - And finally, we reached the Miramar beach. It can be reached easily, as it is well connected to the main road unlike other beaches of Goa. There is a large structure of a fish at the entrance of the beach. Obviously, we had to take some pictures around it. The beach itself was quite wide, slightly less populated than the other beaches we visited the previous day. Must say, it was much cleaner than the other beaches. We were just in time to see the sun go down, and with that our short trip to Goa. 

Summary: As we returned to our usual busy city lives, I can recall a thought that came to my mind - If one would wish to own a holiday home, what better than Goa. The day usually starts a bit late, there is no rush to go somewhere, do something. One can roam around from one corner to another in very little time. There are hardly any traffic jams, hardly any cars as well. Low pollution. The presence of tourists everywhere. Almost, as if it’s one big party. What I liked the most about Goa is, it’s a place, one would lie down and not think about all the big things one often wishes to do. It’s a place, one would lie down and not think of all the places one often wishes to go. It’s a place, one would lie down and not think of all the people we know. It’s a place, one would lie down...just lie down.....

Enjoy Goa !!! Enjoy Travel !!!

References : 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Karnala Bird Sanctuary - How to go, Things to do

Note to readers : Its been a long time since we published any new blog. In spite of that, we have been receiving a lot of feedback from readers over the years. A big thanks to all.  Never thought the blog would be so well received. OK, now to clear some old backlogs.

Karnala Bird Sanctuary
Karnala Bird Sanctuary : It was the first trek of the monsoon season. As usual, the trek featured on the YHAI trekking (Mumbai unit) monsoon schedule. We had been with them on earlier treks. It is a fun group to be with. And what more, they are a knowledgeable bunch too.  The trekking location was extremely close to Mumbai, its a Mumbai trekker's must visit place. Its hard to believe such a trekking destination exists so close to Mumbai. Yes, we are talking about Karnala Bird Sanctuary. It featured as a trek that had a difficulty level that ranged from easy to moderate. Our initial thoughts were how difficult would be a bird sanctuary, that's when we realized there is a fort around which this sanctuary was built - The Karnala fort. We hoped the trek to Karnala fort shall be the start of a new season of treks.

History : When you talk about the fort, most people know about Karnala is that, it was probably some fort that was either conquered or built by Raje Shivaji. Perhaps, you can say the same for most forts in Maharashtra. But, beyond that a lot is unknown about Karnala fort. In olden days, it was said to have strategic importance. Looking at how the control changed hands from Devagiri Yadavs, Tuglaqs, Gujarat Sultanate, Portuguese, The Nizam of Ahmednagar, Shivaji Raje, The Mughals to British East India company makes one think, "What was so special about this fort ?"
In ancient times, India traded with countries like Syria, Egypt and pretty much the entire middle east. The goods from these countries obviously used to land on the ports of Gujarat and Sopara. In order to transport these goods, mostly on foot & horse, the  Bor Pass was the only way that one could get them from sea ports to the interiors of Maharashtra.  Which meant the one who controlled the fort, pretty much controlled Bor Pass. No wonder, many battles took place for the control of this very fort. The British East India company eventually built a railway line in the Bor Pass for easy transport of goods. This also meant the strategic nature of the Karnala fort was no longer important. And as the fort lost its importance, it remained unused, the biodiversity of plants and most importantly birds in the area around must have slowly changed over the decades making it home to some of the diverse species of birds and eventually it was declared a bird sanctuary at some point of time, which still stands even today.   

How to go : Located on the Mumbai-Goa Highway, Karnala Bird Sanctuary is located just around 15 km from Panvel station. In case you are travelling by private vehicle, take the NH17. As soon as you go past the urban areas of Panvel, look for a protruding thumb like structure on the eastern side. You could also look for the Karnala Bird Sanctuary sign board itself. And of course the locals are always helpful.

Public Transport : We had gone using public transport.We assembled at Panvel station on Mumbai's suburban harbour line. The trekkers arrived from various parts of Mumbai. After the initial introduction, we were all off to Karnala bird sanctuary via local auto rickshaws that carried around 6-7 passengers. It cost us around Rs 10.00 per seat. The frequency reduces after 6 pm. So, one is advised to wrap up ASAP and mostly you be able to wrap up as well. On the way, we stopped over at Dutta Wada Pav centre. It is the famous wada pav centre, which is "the eatery" of anyone who is in for a long drive on Mumbai-Goa road. After having a good breakfast, we were back on the road to Karnala bird sanctuary.

Entrance : Within 15-20 minutes we were at the entrance of Karnala bird sanctuary. There was a huge parking lot present. The entry fees to the sanctuary was around Rs. 20. One thing good about Karnala was, the authorities were keen to preserve the nature. If one had to carry a plastic bottle one had to make a deposit of Rs. 50 and register in their log near the entrance.The deposit would be returned only if you manage to get the plastic bottle on your way back. Quite a neat and effective way to ensure no throwing of plastic.
What is there to see : 
Right at the start of the trek, there were a few bird cages that had a few species of commonly found birds.Initially our thoughts were, is this the reason why it is called a bird sanctuary, then why so few birds? Truly speaking, one had these vivid imagination that there would be birds all around the park. We would get a lot of birding snaps. Unfortunately, the birds in the cage were the only ones that caught our eye.There must be a lot of birds in the sanctuary, but our eyes were not trained enough to spot them.We got our first lesson in birding. One has to be extremely patient about it. As the trail started, we were greeted by a tar road leading up to the interiors of the sanctuary. Although, we were ascending, it never gave you a feeling of ascent, rather a smooth walk. The walk was surrounded by tall trees. One could hear different sounds of birds all along our trail, evoking similar calls from the trekkers, getting the birds even more vocal. Perhaps they were some mating calls.

At the base of the fort :

Goddess Karnai temple
As the tar road concluded, we were in the midst of the dense part of the sanctuary. The trees got taller, closer to each other. Even the sounds of birds grew clearer, louder. That's when a light drizzle started. And soon, we reached a straight and clear route which led to the fort. All along what was hidden behind the tall trees, this tall, dark structure peeked out starting at us. We were at the base of the Karnala fort. On right side of the straight path to the fort, just near its base, the views were spectacular. One could see the entire sanctuary from there. Naturally, the scenes provoked some of the fellow trekkers to take some snaps in the titanic pose. There is also a temple of Goddess Karnai near the base the fort. Most of the trekkers prayed for a moment or two. 
The pinacle

The final ascent :

The climb to the fort from the base of the fort was slightly tricky one. On one side was earth and on the other side there was a free fall. Although, it wasn't dangerous, one could only fall back to the base of the fort. That's when the organizers stepped in. They placed their volunteers at strategic places, so as to help fellow trekkers valuable support. Even at the entrance, it was their volunteers who stood there and gave hand to every trekker to get in. And there we were, one by one each of the trekkers entered the Karnala fort. 

Within the fort : After passing through a series of openings, with a little jumps here and there, we were in front of the central structure of the fort, which was a tall pillar like structure, always known as pinnacle. In olden days, it was used as the watch tower. Climbing on the pinnacle was not allowed, as it is said to have taken lives of the climbers.  There were two water holes right next to the pinnacle. One must acknowledge our ancestors, every fort you go, how they used to store water in indigenous but enterprising ways. To pass from one section of the fort to other one had to pass through a corridor, with free falls on both sides. The wind were a lot stronger in those corridors, which made it difficult to pass from one section to the other. There was an open space at the far end of the fort. Most of us went to the other end. It was an open & plain land, we had our lunch there. We spent rest of the afternoon relaxing on the plains, where as some of the more enthusiastic lot continue to take more pictures, explored places around the fort.  
Water hole

Return : After getting out of the fort, with the help of the volunteers, we started our return. The way back down to the entrance of the sanctuary was quite easy. In fact, we reached the entrance in less than an hour. Everyone washed up, and then posed for one big happy group photo. Overall it was a relaxing trek. We can never imagine how crucial this fort may have been in olden days, however, the number of times it changed hands itself tells a lot about the fort's importance in those times. Even present day, attempts to conquer this land continues to happen with builders, politicians alike having an eye on this piece of history. Before that happens, do make a visit to the most pleasant and cheerful fort close to Mumbai. 

References :