Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Walk with Warkaris

June is a diversified colorful month of excitement, a stop gap to think over our mistakes, feel the pride on achievements of the first half of the year and gather strength and plan and aim for the remaining half. June brings the smell of new books, the set of ironed fresh colored school dresses and small kids chattering frantically about their new teachers and wondering about new bench partners. June brings with it the black thundering clouds that have travelled from far away, first drops of rain on dry parched thirsty land with thousands of cracks and flowers popping out through the smiling lemon green grass shoots. June along with it also brings spirit of togetherness and love for god- the Palkhi. For 22 days, you will see tens of thousands of enthusiatic warkaris old and young alike, clad in white, carrying orange flags, collectively singing and dancing, chanting nyanba-Tukaram, walking towards Pandharpur and then returning back.

Palkhi, a unique feature of Maharashtrian culture, is a 1000-year-old tradition followed by people who collectively go in what are called as Dindis (organised group of warkaris) to Pandharpur. There are 2 main Palkhis - Tukaram Palkhi from Dehu and the Dnyaneshwar Palkhi from Alandi. Both the Palkhis meet in Pune for a brief halt and then diverge at Hadapsar to meet again at Wakhri, a village nearby to Pandharpur. On the way around 40-50 small palkhis join. Each Dinidi is managed by a person bright dressed in red colored clothes with long stick in hand. Not sure what it is called...
All the warkari refer to each other as mauli.

Four of us from our office decided to join the fervor at 6AM from Swargate on June 19 2009 when Palkhi proceeded from Pune to Pandharpur. After walking towards 7 Loves chowk we entered through timber market and joined the Palkhi somewhere in Nana peth. Tukaram Palkhi was yet to come and Dnyaneshwar Palkhi had gone far ahead. We started walking towards Hadapsar. The entire road was full of white clad men carrying orange flags, women with either Tulsi or idols of Tukaram/Vithhal on head walking as fast as they could with Dnyanba-Tukaram chants. The 'taal' and tambora music was making the bhajan more enchanting to hear. Hundreds of localities were distributing food- Fruits, Rajgira ladoo, sweets etc, water bottles, plastic bags and what not to warkaris.
We were able to take darshan of Dnyaneshwar Palkhi at Bhairoba nalah. The Rath was nicely decorated with beautiful flowers and was pulled by 2 huge bulls. Lot of people were pulling the Palkhis. Hats off to the police who were doing and amazing job maintaining the huge crowds, over enthusiatic crowds, mad rush to touch the feet in the palkhis and handling angry faces at the road blocks. Overall this was like big procession of people walking in groups of 7-8 people and about 8-10 kms long! I guess there should be atleast 3-4 lakh people out there!

After walking 8.5 kms we halted on Hadapsar bridge near Kirolskar pneumatics and decided to return back. On the way we took darshan of Tukaram Palkhi. After quick tea break at a roadside hotel, we walked back till MG Bus stand. We took auto from MG Bus stand and reached swargate by 9/9.15 AM. Had to hurry back as we were late for office.
It was a great experience and we easily walked about 13kms in total. I'm still waiting to break my own record of walking 22 KMs in single day.
June 19, 2009


This year- 2012, the Palkhi was starting from Pune on Friday June 15th. I had travelled till hadpasar atleast twice now and always wished to walked till Saswad. The opportunity came this year and I did cover total distance of 35 kms in close to 9 hours journey with actual walk of 7.5 hours.

Started at 7.20 PM from Swargate with the Alandi Walk group and reached Dive Ghat base at around 11.45 AM. We had lunch break and rest till 1PM. Started climbing the ghat. It was exhaustive 1.5 hrs climb of just 4KMS in scorching sun. Reached Saswad at 4.30 PM.

It was wonderful StressBuster with Blisters:)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sudhagad Fort

Type: Hill forts
Area: Pali
Grade: Easy
Base Village: Thakurwadi (Pachhapur), 160 Kms from Pune, 12/15 kms from Pali
Time to climb: 2-3 Hours
Best time to visit: Monsoon
Time visited: June 2012
Way to reach from Pune: Travel to Pali via Khopoli. Pachhapur is around 12 Kms from Pali. After 6Kms look out for a small narrow diversion that seems to climb up the mountain. After you cross Pacchapur village ask for Thakurwadi which is about 2-3 kms.

History as on Internet:  Sudhagad fort is believed to have been in existence since 200 BC. The Bhora devi temple on top is said to have been built by Sage Bhrug Rishi. The rulers of Bhor dynasty were worshippers of Bhoraidevi. The first reference of Sudhagad is in the year 1436 when the Bahamani Sultan won over the fort. In 1657 the fort came under the control of Marathas and the name was changed from Bhorapgad to Sudhagad.It's said that Sudhagad's Mahadarwaja is an exact replica of Raigad's Mahadarwaja.

Climbing Routes:
Pachhapur-Thakurwadi: Its One and half hours trek from Thakurwadi .
Dhondse: This way to summit takes more time than the first way...

We were about 14 people and had hired a mini bus. We started early morning and at 7 am we were waiting at RamKrishna in lonavala with hungry faces to open the doors. Some quick chikki shopping at A1 induced the mood in the group. After yummy Masala Dosa and steaming idlies we proceeded to Sudhagad. 

At 9.30 we started the trek. The trek started through Thakurwadi. 2 boys agreed to be our guide. It started as a simple walk and became slightly steep later.

Although cloudy is was sunny. Everybody was desperately waiting for Rain Goids to be pleased. But off cousre we had to earn it...

The bug that had gone Red...

One of the best ladders ever seen!

On the way. Still long way to go to reach Pachhapur Gate.

The detail road directions everywhere.

Now was this the Hatti ki sund?

Steps to heaven?

What a Massive Watch Tower!

The Secret Entrance to lower level

The Panorama from the top with Tail-Bail walls in the background...

Reached Bhorai Devi temple just in time when the rains god answered our prayers. Finally we had earned it! Had hearty Bhel and munched other snacks while the thirtsy dry parched land soaked in the heavy down pour...

We descended back safely by 3 PM. Took us close an hour. Had good time a Pali- see more details here. After Temple visit and some shopping we started back at around 5/5.30 PM. On way saw the massive accident where close 14 cars had piled up near Kamshet Tunnel. There were 2 accidents on the same spot within a gap of an hour and overall 33 cars dashed against one another.

Reached safely back by 7.30PM. A wonderful trek.