Trek to Tikona

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A little late though, today I have decided to complete the post on our trek to a small fort called Tikona. As has been the trend, we start discussing about treks with the onset of monsoon. Accordingly, we came out with two possible destinations for our trek, Tung and Tikona. Tung being very easy, our friend Praphulla suggested us to go for Tikona. So we finalized on the latter. The date for the trek was 25th Aug.
As per plan Vishal and Siddesh(Sid) came down all the way to Vasai, so the three of us started from Vasai in my car. Mandar(Mandy), Vidya, Devendra(dev), Shraddha and Khyati came in Mandy’s car from Kandivli. We met at Ghodbander and proceeded further towards Navi Mumbai. We picked up Samir(Bhai) and Mukesh(Mukya) on our way. Mukya made us wait for some time but he got us some freshly made “Aluwadi”, “Jalebi” and “Samose” :). So it more than made up for the time lost.

Fort Tikona as seen from foothills

Fort Tikona as seen from foothills

We had targeted to start the trek by 9:30 -10:00, but we were running late by a huge margin. We took the Karla exit on the expressway and proceeded towards Kamshet on the old Mumbai-Pune highway. At Kamshet we took a right turn towards Pawana nagar which is around 15 kms from Kamshet. Tikona Peth (Base village) is around 7 kms ahead of Pawana Nagar. No one amongst us had been to this place before, so finding our way to the foothills cost us some valuable time. The road from Kamshet till the base village may be just 20-25 kms, but is narrow and not in a good condition. Finally we reached the base village after 11:30. A villager allowed us to park the cars in his backyard and so, we started our trek only after 12:00. The trek as such was easy, but after driving for almost 5 hrs, we were feeling a bit tired.

After walking for some time, there was a board giving directions towards the fort on the right hand side. This is where the ascend to the fort started. The climb is gradual with some minor rocky patches. The atmosphere was amazing, it didn’t rain even a bit, the sky was clear with the sunray’s  falling on the lush green grass around giving it a kind of glow. The afternoon sun was shining on us too but the cool breeze was more than sufficient to offset it. After ascending for  around 15 mins, we were able to see the Pawana lake which is close to the fort.

Steps leading to the main bastion of the fort

Steps leading to the main bastion of the fort

Khyati, amongst us, was the first one to get exhausted, so she decided to rest for a while. Mukesh was waiting with her. Rest of us continued with the trek. Shraddha, who was probably on her first trek, was most excited and was leading everybody. On our way we found a cave followed by statue of lord hanuman near a cave.  In just about 45 mins we had reached base of main bastion. We had tea from a vendor and relaxed for some time before advancing for the final leg of the trek.

The final leg had some 100 odd steep steps which are to be climbed. Unlike our normal steps these were a tad tricky. There is one wire on the side wall throughout the length of the steps. One has to hold on to this wire while climbing the steps for going up “safely”. We took 10 more minutes to reach the pinnacle of the fort.

Standing on the top, you get a spectacular 360 degree view of the surrounding area. Pawna lake surrounds the fort from Western and Northern side. There is a valley on the eastern side whereas a cliff connects the fort with an adjacent mountain from south. Beyond the lake on the northern side we can see the twin forts of Visapur and Lohgad forming a formidable wall. Fort Tung, which is surrounded on three sides by Pawna lake can be seen on the west. Korigad lies to south western side of the fort, but it could not be seen due to heavy fog. There is also a small temple on the fort.

Cliff on the other side

Cliff on the other side

We had some snacks which we had carried with us and after some sight seeing we started our descend from the fort. It hardly took us 45 mins to get back to our cars. We started our return journey at around 3:30. While returning back, we took a different route. We took a left from Pawana Nagar. This road runs on the perimeter of Pawna lake for almost 8-9 kms. The road was narrow , quite curvy and full of potholes, so our speed was well in check. The view along the route was breathtaking. It goes pass Lohgad and further into Lonavla city. Since we had not had our lunch, we took a break at Mcdonalds on the Expressway. It was dark by the time we reached Airoli. I was feeling a bit worn out, so Vishal drove my car for the remaining part. We reached Vasai station by around 8:30. Mandy, meanwhile had reached Borivali. So, this is how we completed our small but tiring trek to Tikona! 🙂

Trek To Visapur

Planning for Trek

Last year when I had published my blog “Trek To Lohagad“, I had mentioned it was my ninth visit to Lohagad. On reading that  Praphulla my friend, had suggested me to visit Visapur the next time. According to him, it was beautiful, huge & since it is not as easy as Lohagad, there are very few people visiting this fort. I had decided to visit this fort last year itself, but somehow could not do it.
Finally, this year we had a plan in place. Last month, just while mingling around with my friends, Hemant came up with an idea about trek. I already had Visapur in my mind for quite some time, so based on my suggestion and everybody’s convenience, we agreed for a trek to Visapur on 14th July.

Food mall

A break taken at the food mall on the Mumbai Pune expressway

The Actual Trek

We started at around 5:15 in the morning, with Prasad leaving from his home with his car. Hitesh who stays at andheri, had come to Prasad’s place so as make it easier to leave early in the morning. Both of them left home at around 5:00. Sachin was the first one to be picked. Followed by Anand, Hemant and Me. By 6:30 we had refueled our car and were cruising on the highway. Our next stop was Airoli, where Nilesh was waiting for us, next was Amol at Kharghar. Amol was late by few minutes. After his arrival, we had some sandwiches which I had carried. Usually we take a break for snacks, but this time we wanted to save on time, hence carried some stuff with us.

Starting from Kharghar, our next stop was supposed to be Kumar Resort, Lonavla. Kshamesh and Chetan were coming from Pune, and Kumar Resort was to be the meeting point. We had planned to take the route via Pawna lake to reach the base village for Lohagad/Visapur. But Kshamesh and Chetan were quite late and hence we decided to take the customary Malavli route, since it saves on travel time from Pune.

Visapur Foothills

The Lush green carpet at the foothills of Visapur

We reached Malavli at around 9:15. A little late though, but quickly started our ascend. We had our breakfast before reaching Malavli, but Kshamesh and Chetan who came from Pune, were hungry. We assured them of having Pohe once we reach the foothills of the fort. 🙂 The first half of this trek is common between Lohagad and Visapur. Only after reaching a plateau at Lohgad village, the two go there separate ways. This section of the trek is reasonably easy, but we had some hiccups. Prasad, who is quite used to such walks due to his house in his village, was gasping for air. He was finding it very difficult to breath. We made him rest for some time, and then proceeded further. In monsoon the climate over here is quite pleasant. The lush green grassland seems to have occupied the entire area. Clouds cover the entire area upto the horizon, with occasional holes from where the Sun god peeps in.

We reached the Lohagad village from where we took left leaving behind majority of the crowd. As per our information, we were required to take this left and walk for around 15 mins. There we had to search for the entrance to the fort. We followed the trail accordingly. In between we took a tea break and also garam garam pohe. 🙂 Having Pohe is considered as an important milestone for most of the treks in Sahyadri. The trek doesn’t seem to be complete without this traditional Maharastrian dish :).

Pohe break at visapur

Tea and Pohe break at visapur

Anyways, we continued on our trail looking for the entrance to the fort from the south end. But somehow we missed it. Unlike Lohagad, there are very few people who trek to Visapur. Hence there was hardly anyone whom we could have asked directions for the fort. The trail too was marshy at times, with our feet sunk half foot inside the mud. We realized that almost the entire fort has passed but still there was no sign of the entrance. We saw some people on the fort. We waved our hands asking for direction. They acknowledged by asking us to go on the other side. Apparently telling us that we are on the wrong side. Few of us were getting impatient. But still, we continued. On reaching on the other end of the fort, we saw some huts and children playing around. They told us, there is a small trail which leads us to the fort, but suggested us to take them as guide. We turned down there suggestion and proceeded on our own, this time on the other side of the fort. This decision cost us almost an hour. To our disappointment there was a path after every few meters; and we were not sure which one to take. Assuming that all of them would ultimately lead us to the entrance; but it didn’t. We kept on trying different routes, and each one had a dead end. The forest is quite dense over here. With tree branches covering the paths, sometimes having sharp prickles or cactus. We tried almost for an hour but with no success; to add to our plight, we had exhausted all the water which we had carried . Finally we decided to take help of those kids whom we had met. Fortunately, even after an hour of trying, we were not far away from those huts. 🙂 Hemant went back and got two of those kids with him. The kids had also got another group who had sought there help. Both the group had agreed to pay them fifty bucks each.

From then on we were on the correct track. In fact after a while, we noticed that at regular intervals, someone had marked the rocks along the path with directions to proceed towards the fort. In another half an hour, we had reached the steps to the fort. By 3:30 we were on the top. 🙂 Finally!!

About the Fort

After resting for few minutes, we proceeded along the forts perimeter. The fort is huge, with the plateau almost double the size of lohagad. Not much has been written about this fort, but this fort did exists during the Nizamshah reign. It kept changing hands between Nizamshah and Mughals, until Chatrapati Shivaji bought it into swaraj. It was during the Peshwa era that major restoration was carried out. The perimeter walls of the fort were built in the 18th Century. There are quite a few water cisterns on the fort. The perimeter wall is almost entirely intact, with its height and width varying at different places. There are two building like structures, probably a palace or storehouse. Just before the entrance at the north end you will find couple of huge caves. Again this might be used for soldiers to rest or as a store house. There is a huge carving of lord Hanuman; Also, there is a huge manual grinder which is still in good shape. The bastion at the north end has an old gun. One can see the Mumbai-Pune express way from this end.

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We had about an hours time before we start our descend. We started with the northern most bastion, the one facing the Mumbai-Pune expressway. We then moved on to the other end. The view from the south end is breathtaking, The entire Lohagad, at a lower elevation could be seen from here. The fortification of Lohagad with its seven bastions appear more beautiful when seen from Visapur then probably from Lohagad itself. Just left of Lohagad, in the background, one can see the fort Tung, with Pawana lake separating it from Fort Tikona. Since the climate was quite foggy, we were not able to see Korigad from this point, which otherwise could be seen behind fort Tung.

While roaming around on the fort we met two guys, who had taken a different route to climb the fort. Apparently this route appeared to be much shorter than the one we had come from. So while coming down we came along with these guys. The rain god had bestowed mercy on us throughout the day when we were in difficulty. But while descending, it came out with all its guns blazing. Offcourse  it did cause us some inconvenience, but the fact that we had reached the fort had boosted our morale and we made our way down to malavli village in around one and a half hour. Well, this is how one of the most exciting trek of my life was carried out. For so many years I saw Visapur from Lohgad, this was the first time I saw Lohagad from Visapur. 😉

Trek to Visapur