Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kangori Fort AKA Mangalgad

Type: Land Fort
Base Village: Gogavalewadi near Pimpalwadi close to ShivthalGhal
Where: 275 KMs from Pune
Route: Pune-Bhor-Mahad Route
Time visited: August 2012
Time to climb: 1.5
Difficulty Grade:  2
How to reach: Take a right turn to Bhor from Pune Satara Highway and after crossing Bhor take road to Mahad. Cross Nira-Devghar dam waters and  Varandha ghat. Take a left to Pimpalwadi from a place called Dhalkathi (After bypassing Bhave Village). Mangalgad should be around 17kms from here.

History on Internet: Kangori Fort was built by Chandrarao More of Jawli. In 1648 Shivaji Maharaj took captured this fort and renamed it to Mangalgad. Chitursing the brother of the Raja of Satara was confined here from 1812 till his death in 1818. In 1817 Cornets Hunter and Morrison, two English officers were imprisoned here for some time.

MountainQuest had arranged this wonderful trek. We were about 45 people. We hit katraj ghat by about 6.35AM.
The road via Bhor, Nira-Devghar dam was a scenic one. The paddy fields seemed to be enjoying drizzle.

Varandah Ghat seemed to be like a gigantic wet cloth in shades of greens with numerous folds.
Huge milky white waterfalls were ascending unafraid of the height and treacherous rocks below.

Had Breakfast in the bus. We reached by 10.15 AM.
The drizzling continued. Kangori seemed to be distant from the base and engulfed by fog.
The busstop is next to Gogavale vadi. We started the climb immediately. The climb is through adjoining hill and then you have to climb on the ridge.

A rocky dirt road is being developed which was still done only 1/4th. Once we left the road it was climb through thick cover of trees.

Cloulds were wandering in the entire valley. Two large waterfall could be seen far away.

The climb is from the right cliff. The last patch was completely engulfed in the clouds. Visibility was around 10 feet.
The tall grass made the misty atmosphere more thrilling.

Finally after 1.5 hours we reached the Kangori Temple. It’s a small temple atop the machi. Throughout the last patch rains continued making numerous streams on the way.
It was fun eating lunch amidst the lashing rains.
Unfortunately Ballekilla was completely inaccessible due to huge growth of grass and fog. We descended in an hour’s time.
On the way had hot bhajis and steaming tea admist the rain and fog in the ghat.

Due to lack of time Shivthalghal had to be dropped. The return journey was full of wonderful songs and tales of Everest expedition. Few members of MountainQuest had recently climbed Everest and we were lucky to hear from someone with firsthand experience.  We reached safely back home at around 9 PM. It was wonderful trek that I would cherish forever.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Dudhsagar Waterfalls

Type: Waterfall
Area: Inside Mahavir Sanctuary Goa-Karnataka Border
Base Village: Dudhsagar

Best time to visit: Monsoom
Time visited: July 2012
About: Dudhsagar falls lie high up in the Mandovi River's watershed and during the monsoon season the falls are transformed into one of the most powerful falls in India. The water plummets hundreds of feet in large volumes during the monsoon season, forming one of the most spectacular natural phenomena in Goa. It is a major part of the Goa ecosystem. This is a four tiered waterfall with a total height of 310 metres (1017 feet) and an average width of 30 metres (100 feet) and is 5th tallest waterfall in India.

Way to reach from Pune:
The waterfall is located between Castlerock and Kulem railway stations.

Option1- Kulem: Travel to Kulem Railway Station by Goa Express which stops at Kulem at around 5AM in the morning. It’s 12 KM- hike from Kulem to Doodhsagar. This is most exciting walk as you get a view of complete waterfalls and famous snapshot of railway chunking down across the waterfall. Travel back to Kulem and board return Goa Express to Pune at 4PM. Travelling back is pain and but you can request and board some freight trains and travel back to Kulem.

Option 2- Castlerock: Travel by Goa Express and alight at Castlerock station at around 3 am in the morning. It 17-18 kms walk from Castle Rock to Doodhsagar. I did see lot of them coming this way but unfortunately this missed the wonderful full view of the waterfall.

Option 3- Dudhsagar:  Alternatively get down a Dudhsagar Station. Note this is not a passenger Railway  all trains might not stop here. But I did see Goa Express and Poorna Express taking a halt for a minute. Poorna Express comes at around 11.30 AM. Walk back 3-4 kms to get a full view of the waterfalls. You can board Goa Express at 4PM.

Important tips
  1. There’s heavy rush in the monsoons. So travelling without a confirmed ticket is bad idea. You would not get even standing space in general bogeys.
  2. Most preferred way for picnickers is probably travelling by Poorna and boarding back goa express both at Doodhsagar. We could see hundreds of people alighting from Poorna Express at 11.30 who boarded Goa express back at 4pm. Then again a lot of the board from Castlerock . Lot of people change trains at Belgaum. So till Belgaum the trains are packed and there’s hardly an inch to move. Ideally boarding a train from kulem would be safest option.
  3. There are chances of leech if you are walking. Apply Tobacco water of Diesel to keep leeches away.
  4. There is hardly any space to get in the waterfall to bathing and is very very risky and this should really be avoided. There are couple of waterfalls on the way too if bathing does matter:)
  5. There is only one vendor who sells some food items including hot tea near the waterfall. So it would be good idea to carry own food and water.
  6. At some places there is small pathway beside the tracks but where the path doesn’t exist it is slightly difficult to walk on the tracks. The stone do hurt and it would be good idea that you shoes have thick and strong soles. Ideally avoid walking on tracks!
  7. It you get a ride in freight train on return journey believe me its highly bumpy and jerky. You would thankfully realize what shock absorbers means for a normal train.
  8. There are 6 tunnels on the way. Carry a torch. Avoid a tunnel when train is passing through it. Its extremely deafening!

The whole group had travelled from Pune by Goa Express and got down at Kulem at around 5AM in the morning. Since I was in Goa, I had hired a Innova for a drop from Colva. Since I started at 4AM the driver charged me exorbitantly- Rs 2000/- It was raining heavily but Reached safely at 5.15/5.30 AM to join the rest of trek group. I guess we were around 50-60 people.

Kulem station is pretty small and the only vendor had Bhopla-Puri and hot tea. After the snacks we had introduction and warm-up session. Note the 50/700 milestone. The Dudhsagar milestone is at about 38.

We started at around 6.30/6.45 AM. It was a pleasant morning and rains were still playing hide and seek.

Thick forest covered both sides. The visibility still was only 70%.

Trains kept whizzeing by with screeching noise.


Snails and worms were enjoying the cheerful weather.

We had to cross 6 Tunnels.

The wait was worthwhile.

Thousands of gallons of water gushed merrily into the gorge.

The walk continued till we reached actual waterfalls. There was huge rush.

And this was still 60-70% of the full flow due to scanty rains this year.

At 12 we walked a little forward at signal near Dudhsagar station. Poorna express had halted and thousands had alighted! After while we caught a frieght train back to Kulem and what a jerky ride it was! Reached  back safely in time at 3PM. Goa express came slightly late but we boarded and started our return journey with wonderful memories....


Saturday, August 4, 2012


Goa Trip
Area: Panjim
Best time to visit: Anytime of the year
Time visited: July 2012

Aguada Fort

Goa Trip

Type: Sea fort
Area: Panjim
Base Village: 13kms from Panjim
Best time to visit: Anytime of the year
Time visited: July 2012
Way to reach from Pune: Travel to Panji. It’s an Half an hour’s drive from Panjim.

Much part of the Fort Aguada seems to be converted to a beach Resort. We were not sure if the lower area facing the sea was accessible as it seemed that entry was through Taj Vivanta. But we were able to see upper area with old light house and huge water tank inside the fortified structure.

The entry to is very pleasing and is one of the best maintained structures.


The History put up by Archeological survey of India talks in detail about this structure.

The main entrance is well protected gate not easily visible.

The Magnificent view from the one of the towers inside the fortress with the huge water tank in the center.

The fortified wall all around.

The huge tank with the old lightout house in the background.

The Powerful Bastion with trench around.

The lighthouse.

Chapora Fort

Goa Trip

Type: Sea fort
Area: Panjim
Grade: Easy
Base Village: 10kms from Mapusa, Vagotar/Anjuna beach
Time to climb: 20 mins Hours
Best time to visit: Anytime of the year
Time visited: July 2012
Way to reach from Pune: Travel to Panji. It’s an Half an hour’s drive – 20 kms from Panjim.

History as on Internet: Chapora Fort name derived from Chapora Riverwas constructed by Adil Shah of Bijapur long before the Portuguese arrived in Goa and was called Shahpura, ('town of Shah'), Even after the Portuguese acquired Bardez, the fort changed hands several times and was much sought after. Trying to end the Portuguese rule in Goa, Prince Akbar joined his father’s enemies, the Marathas in 1683 and made this place his base camp and it became the northern outpost of the Old conquests. The Portuguese troops had to surrender to Sambhaj Mharaj in 1684. But discord boiled over between the locals and the Marathas. Finally in 1717, the Marathas withdrew their force. The Portuguese then took over again and rebuilt the fort. The new structure of the fort was equipped with underground tunnels that ensured a safe getaway in case of an emergency. Even this glory was not for long. Again in 1739 the Marathas captured the Chapora fort. Two years later, in 1741, the Portuguese regained the fort when the northern taluka of Pernem was handed over to them.

I had covered lot seaforts in konkan 2years ago. So this time I was thrilled to get a chance to visit the Dil Chata Hai fame fort- Chapora. We were staying in south Goa near Colva beach. We started after having a breakfast and it took almost 2 hours to reach the fort.

On the way to the fort.

It’s a small climb of 20 minutes. There is very little space at the foothills for car parking. The boundary walls are clearly visible from the base.

A small gate takes you inside of the fort. If you look back you can see amazing view of huge number of coconut trees below.


The red laterite stone walls stand still facing the gushing winds and heavy rains.

Amazing view of the beautiful beaches- Anjuna and Vagator.

We proceeded to our next destination - Auguada fort.


Goa Trip

Type: Hill Station
Area: Close to kolhapur

Best time to visit: Monsoon
Time visited: July 2012
Way to reach from Pune: Travel Kolhapur. Travel ahead by the Banglore highway till Twandi which is 5okms from Kolhapur. After Twandi ghat ends, there’s a bifurcation for Amboli. Amboli should be around 70kms.

History on Internet: Historically, Amboli village came into being as one of the staging posts along the road from Vengurla port to the city of Belgaum, which was extensively used by the British to supply their garrisons in south and central India. The hills of Amboli village provide one of the sources of the Krishna river (The "Ganges" of south India) and an ancient Shiva temple (called Hiranyakeshi) exists at the cave where the water emerges. The main attraction for tourists is the incredibly high rainfall and the numerous waterfalls and mist during the monsoons. Legend has it that there are 108 Shiva temples in and around Amboli of which only a dozen have been uncovered, one as recently as 2005. There aren't too many places to see or things to do but its quiet and unpolluted.

If you going to Goa via Kolhapur Amboli is a must visit. I would have loved to stay here for a day at least but we were on a very short trip to Goa and we had stopped at Amboli over for lunch.

The roads were beautiful with thick forest on both sides.

Whole area was covered in dense fog.

There were numerous waterfalls.

The usual crowd enjoying thunderous waterfalls and hot sweet corn.

With heavy heart and wonderful memories we proceed to our destination- Goa.