Saturday, October 2, 2010

Korigad - How to go, places to visit, things to do

Oct'2 2010 : Frequent travel on official purposes, especially during the monsoons meant, missing out on the monsoon treks for quite some time now. However, thanks to the extended spell of rains this year, made it possible to make one trek in this year's monsoon. Easy access, popular and last but not the least an easy trek were the parameters considered for the choice of the destination. A friend who had visited the place recently had some good words for the place.It was an easy choice. It was Korigad. After much deliberation, train was the mode of transport and it was going to be a one day trek.Korigad, here we come!!! 

How to get there : Korigad is situated close to Lonavala. If you are travelling by car, reach Lonavala via the Mumbai-Pune highway. Once you reach Lonavala head north and take the Jalvayyu marg. Pass the Simbi point and then take the Vayyu marg. It would be better to ask passer's by for the route to Amby valley. Korigad is on the way. Its around half hour drive from Lonavala. Make sure you carry a copy of the map, directions from google maps.The place to reach is Peth Shahapur We traveled by public transport. Must say, it was a hectic journey, as we had to travel some part of the journey, standing, with barely any space to stand in train. We booked our tickets on the Intercity Express from Dadar to Lonavala. As luck would have it, we got our tickets on the waiting list. We purchased additional Gen tickets and got on the over crowded train. And there began our 2 hrs of hell. Standing, pushing, hanging was the order of the journey. No wonder we cursed ourselves for not taking a private vehicle.  We reached Lonavala around 9.00 am. All over the web, while doing research for the trip, we found that, there was only a single bus for Amby Valley, which leaves at 9.00. Obviously, we missed that, as we didn't know where the bus station was anyway. On inquiring from locals, we reached the Lonavala bus station.There was another bus which left at 10.00 am for Amby Valley. We had a quick breakfast - Misal Pav. It was just routine fair, nothing special. Then, we got on the bus. Along the way, there were quite a lot of army vehicles passing by. There seems to be a cantonment near by. We reached the Peth Shahapur around 11.00 am. The conductor informed us that the return bus arrived the same place around 3.00 pm. So we could catch it then on our way back.

Reaching the base of the fort : Staring at the fort on top of the hill, some of us wondered, if we could scale it in under 45 mins. (Well that's the time it would take us to reach, as was informed by my friend). The hill-cum-fort is on the left of the road to Amby valley. Now, there are two routes to reach the fort. One that is right ahead via Ambavane village and is presumed to be steep and difficult to climb. By nature, we took the easier one! i.e. the one to the left. So, we started our trek on the left hand side. To make things more clearer for you, from the S.T. bus stop you need to take a left. Right ahead, you would find a temple. You need to walk towards the temple. With the fort on your right, when you are walking towards the temple. Just as you cross the temple, take a right. You would find a huge water tank.Walk past the water tank. The road gets quite muddy during the rains. Luckily, there weren't enough rains on that day. The trail from there onwards is pretty clear  which leads up to the base of the fort. After a good 20 mins walk, don't be surprised to see a road. Not sure, where this came from. In fact, there was some construction going on in the area. The sight of the road does turn you off for a moment. Anyway, now, we were minutes from the base of the fort. The fort being on the right. We were at the footsteps of Korigad!

The fort :  The ascent to the top was rather a steady one. There are stairs made of cement along the way to the top. Its good to have the stairs, however, not sure it would last for more than 3-4 years. The steps seem to have withered due to millions of footsteps that must have travelled on those stairs over the years. The government or even the local people must do something about these stairs before the Korigad fort goes out of reach of the trekkers.The stairs neither too steep nor difficult in any way, go spirally upwards. Watch out for some portions of the climb. There are sections missing on sides of the stairs, as they seem to have lost due to landslides. Mid-way to the top, there is an idol of Lord Ganesha.It seems to be well maintained by the locals and trekkers alike, as puja items like oil and kandil (lamp) are present next to the idol. There are certain water reservoirs on the way to the top, not sure what their purpose might have been. But, the water does not look anywhere close to potable. As we climbed higher, the view was just awesome. It gave a great view of Amby Valley. Soon, a few turns and climbs later we were up at the large entrance.The entrance was around 10 feet high. Can't recall if there was a gate as such. This is called Ganesh Darwaja. However, we did capture some pics at the entrance, celebrating our efforts.

What is there to see :  
The top of the fort is a large open green area almost equivalent to two Shivaji Parks, (excuse me for the vague comparisons ;) However, the centre of the area is split up into two ponds. Obviously each having its own microcosm universe inhabited by frogs, small fishes etc. There were a lot dragon flies, plenty of them on the top. There were a few cannons too, one to the left seemed quite prominent. The fort itself is actually in quite good shape, especially the perimeters of the fort. Trekkers could actually walk along the perimeter. We were not the ones to try that option though. Right ahead, from where we entered the fort, one can see the road where we got down from the bus,i.e the road to Amby Valley. On the right i.e across the two ponds, if you can make efforts to climb up, one can see the helipad and a small runway. There is a hutment in the vicinity and a few cows on the top. The fort does have a care taker.There is a temple on top of the fort. It is said to be of Korlaidevi. We never prayed at the temple, cannot say much about the temple. After, spending a few hrs at the top, we decided to head back.

Places to Eat : There are no places to eat at the Korigad. Just a few shops near the bus stop, where you can purchase water, some cold drinks, chips etc. So, its better to bring some food along. No wonder, we found many picnickers bringing their huge picnic baskets and having sumptous meals at the top.

Return Journey : The return journey was rather quick one, as decents usually are. We got down and reached the bus stop in less than 40 mins. Luckily in time for the 3.00 pm bus back to Lonavala. The bus was quite empty and inspite of the twists and turns we managed to doze off on our way back. We had our lunch at one of the restaurants at Lonavala. For our return journey we headed back to the Lonavala bus stand. After a few bargains with private taxis walas and looking for buses to Mumbai, We were lucky to find a bus to Borivali, which meant easy, relaxed return back home.Although,overall the trip was a short, relaxed one, it went as expected. It was pretty much a budget trip under Rs. 500. Would recommend first timers or people who wish to have a relaxed one day outing, Korigad would definitely be the place to be.Hope this helps you on your trip to Korigad. 

Some useful links :