While met dept reassures, monsoon still is continuing to elude for past 3 weeks. The weather on weekend was cloudy and we were expecting that monsoon would repeat its Friday Mumbai magic. With high hopes we planned to trek Shivneri on Saturday June 27. Shivneri is small fort but of great historical importance. It was a turning point in Indian history when Shivaji Maharaj was born in 1630 on this fort. He spent his childhood acquiring knowledge and learning fencing skills and gureilla warfare tricks.
Junnar was one of the oldest cities of ancient India. The Shaka dynasty ruled here. 64 caves are carved in the walls of mountain on which this fort Shivneri is built. After Satvaahans, the fort went into the hands of Yadavas, and then to the Bahmani Kings. Maharaj left this fort in 1632 and could never capture it back from Mughals. Mughals occupied it from 1637 and ruled for 40 years until Shahu Maharaj brought the fort under his control. Peshwas ruled thereafter.
Four of us from our office started at 6.15 from swargate and reached Junnar at around 7.30. Junnar is around 100 kms from Pune, 20kms from Narayangaon on Pune-Nashik highway. After a hearty breakfast on hotel neat ST Stand at the backdrop of the majestic fort we proceeded by taking a left turn from the shivaji statue in the main chowk. A motorable road takes you almost half of the fort. Its an hours climb, if you take this Rajmarg to climb the fort. the other road is 'sakhali vat' which is from Junar side which is slightly tricky over rock patches. We missed that and had parked our car near Rajmarg and hence decided to continue on that. Lot of restoration work has been done on the fort, barricades, informative signs are erected and steps have been built but thankfully the beauty and originality is still preserved. Forest department has planted several tress, created gardens, planted some trees with medicinal value and also labeled them. The government appointed employees regularly cleans the fort and good things is that plastics are banned. In fact this would be amongst most well maintained forts!
One has to pass through Fortification of 7 majestic doors- Maha Darwaja, Ganesh Darwaja, Pir Darwaja, Hatti Darwaja, Shivai Darwaja, Mena Darwaja and Kulup Darwaja that safegaurd the fort. The distance between third and fourth door is maximum amongst all doors and we catched a glimpse of a sun-bathing moongose.
The topmost part is almost a plain. Huge Ambarkhana greets you right on the top. Further down, statues of Jijabai and Bal Shivaji, are installed in Shiv Kunj, a monument constructed by the state government.
A small 2 storied house-Shiv Janmasthan stands admist ruins. Kamani Masjid is in front of Shiv Kunj. Further towards Kadelot point, Badami Talao, the largest amongst the 9 cisterns on the fort is usually filled with potobale water but was completely dry.
The Kadelot point has a small door or entrance and one has to bend down to climb down on the buruj. You are fascinated by amazing view Junnar city while wondering how may prisoners could have died after being pushed from on this Kadelot point.
Shivneri is also remembered for the bloody battle of 1650 when the Kolis-local fishermen revolted against Mughals and were defeated. Koli Chauthara monument is built in the place where Mughals had cruelly assassinated thousands of kolis. We climbed down by 12PM. On the way we had a Avala sharbat and chatted with vendor. He was worried about possibility of drought and praying that his stacked bhuimug seeds dont go waste while he was not able to plough the fileds - ajun dekhle fodun zali navthi. Usually is its time for 'khoorpani' every year. He was earning merely 100rs a day by sharbat selling and trying to support his 3 school-college going kids. The comittee charges him 200Rs month for allowing him to sell sharabat on the fort. We were touched by truthfulness of the vendor who was not ready to keep the 2rs change... After these emotional discussions throwing some insight on ground realities we proceeded to Lenyadri.
4 Kms away from Shivneri fort lies Lenyadri-Shree Girjatma. There are around 30-40 mostly empty caves situated on middle of barren hill overlooking the valley of Kukdi river. Lenyadri is the only place among Ashtavinayak places which is situated on mountain and in the vicnity of the Buddhist caves. After a 20rs car parking charges and 5rs entrance charge we started to climb. A flight of 300 steps will take you around 30-45 mins to climb. While you are delighted of cool breeze beware of the monkeys hopping around waiting to snatch away you bottles or food. There’s nothing much to see around. Cave 7 is the largest and houses the image of Ganesha and is right where the steps end. Its very clean, well maintained and the good thing is that have restricted of breaking coconut outside the cave. Cave 6, a smelly cave is the main chaityagrha with stupa. Apart from that all other caves are mostly fouls smelling and empty, unfortunately people use them for loos.
We descended back by 2 pm and had stomach full lunch at a hotel in Junnar. We reached Pune by 4pm. I would recommend this for a nice family trip too. God know why they flock to Singhgad only on weekends! Overall it was walk of around 8 Kms on Shivneri and around 4 Kms in Lenyadri.
-June 27, 2009