It was a bright and sunny afternoon. We were walking up the second fort of the day. Fatigue was catching up on many of us. But something kept us going. With effort we reached the top and the scenes that surrounded us here left us flabbergasted! In front of us stood the vast expanse of the Darna reservoir with hills beyond dominating the landscape. On the left ran the Mumbai – Nasik highway with Tringalwadi, Kavnai forts and other hills in the backdrop. Behind us stood the towering apex of Mt. Kalsubai and the lofty cliffs of Alang-Madan-Kulang range. The glimpses of the small water bodies around and the Bhandardara reservoir added to the romance. The sunrays fell directly on these making the water glitter though it wasn’t gold! We were atop Mordhan fort – the pains we took to clamber which were for this one mesmerizing moment.
Tringalwadi – Kavnai – Mordhan was a long planned unaccomplished mission. I had been longing to do this. However not until December 4, 2010 when 15 of us had gathered together to conquer the majestic trio nestled amidst the numerous hills of Igatpuri. Things well planned, we started our journey early. Though Igatpuri is around 200 km from Pune, but it takes quite long and can be pretty burly at times. And that’s exactly what happed with us too! It had taken us 7 long hours to cover this distance on the small roads that snaked around the mountains big and small. We finally made it to the base of Tringalwadi only at 2 pm!
The clouds showed up as we reached here. It seemed like they had engulfed the mighty sun. Some reflected themselves in the waters of the Tringalwadi dam. Amongst them was the peak of the Tringalwadi fort peeping through. The weather was cool and the place was scenic. It helped our tiredness fade away. With vigor we began our march towards the fort. We were walking though the farmlands – some barren, while many of them with abundance of greens. At times these crops were tall enough to cover us as we walked through. A 15 min walk got us to the foothills. A cave hewn out of the massive rock caught our attention here. Decked with intricate carvings it stood there to bequeath us a warm welcome. The front portion of it was broken and in ruins. It exposed the inner door which had the dwarpals carved on either side. It was adorned with various other carvings too. The upper panel of the door had images of various Gods and a variety of beautiful designs. The inner part of the cave was a huge room, in which darkness prevailed. A small window helped lighten it, but not to a large extent. The faint beam brightened up the ornate pillars festooned with an array of carvings. Couple of them were broken and stood hanging by the roof. Inside was another small room which housed a ruinous idol of Lord Mahavira, the Jain Tirthankar.
With His blessings we stepped out and continued to trek up the fort. It was a cakewalk with gradual ascends that led us to a huge plateau on which stood the fort at a distance. The small pathway then ran through the grasslands until we reached the base of another ascend. The walkway on the spur of the hillock commanded beautiful views of the surroundings, thus adding comfort to the trail. After a 10 minute climb our path was blocked by a lofty cliff. We traversed this to reach a col where steps were dug out to access the fort. Clambering these foot and half high steps was fun as they elevated us to the door guarded by the monkey God – Lord Hanuman. With the loud cries of Jai Bhavani Jai Shivaji we entered the fort. We thought we had done with the climbing, but then there was yet another small hillock that the defenses had fortified. In no time we climbed up this too. Stunning views that we saw from here forced us think the climb was worth the efforts. We could identify the twin peaks of Kavnai and Daskon, the Mordhan fort at a distance and Mt. Kalsubai peeping up amongst the sierra that surrounded us!
We then set out for a stroll on the fort. There were fortification remains and plinths of the old structures that existed here. Couple of water cisterns helped us quench our thirst. Near the cisterns we saw a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and his family (Goddess Parvati and Lord Ganesha). After a quick tour, we traced our footsteps back to descend the fort – this time taking a different route. This was a little easy and took us no time to hop down to the grasslands and then further down to the base village taking another glance at the cave which we had seen earlier.
Our next destination was Kavnai, so we enquired and almost immediately set off in its direction. It was half an hour joyride. People were fresh after the small exhilarating hike and all set for the next one. We reached the Kavnai village a little before dark and thought it was wise to climb this early morning. So we unpacked our bags to be put up in the temple at the foothills. Here we cooked Pav Bhaji for dinner and then there was a long chitchat session. The chill in the air did not let us sleep, but we managed to catch up with it somehow.
Good Morning Kavnai! The cool breeze had woken us early. A refreshing sip of tea made the chill disappear and we set out to conquer our second fort – Kavnai. The fort looked massive ready to pounce on us. But the climb was fairly easy. The weather was still chilly, while the sun slowly made its appearance behind the mighty peak of Daskon. The rays reflected the clear waters of upper Vaitarna dam behind us, leaving us awestruck. We were atop the plateau with the massive block of Kavnai in front of us. We kept wondering how to clamber that large rock, when a small pathway directed us to traverse to the left, from where a set of steps led us to the entrance door. Slowly and carefully we helped each other climb up and celebrated the triumph with the loud cries of ‘Jai Bhavani Jai Shivaji’.
The rising sun was a sight as it slowly emerged behind Daskon and its rays slowly illuminated the surroundings. We sat facing the sun – relishing every moment spent there. A few enthusiastic ones indulged themselves in photography while the others posed for them. It was a beautiful morning everyone thought. After a few good moments here, we set off to explore the fort. It is small fort with a temple and the clear waters of the lake dotting the landscape. The temple of the goddess Kamakshi reflected the clear waters and so did the clouds in the sky above. A Shivling with a Nandi in front, formed a roofless temple besides the lake. We found a nice place to relax near the temple, where we replete our stomachs with some bhel and apples before we saw the water cisterns, flag posts and the remains of the old fortification.
We traced back our footsteps and reached the temple where we were put up. With scrumptious breakfast of poha and tea and pulav cooked for lunch, we left the place. A final good bye to Kavnai and we were heading in the direction of the third fort – Mordhan. We reached Ghoti, where we enquired about the fort, but to our surprise no one knew about it. Many were hearing the name for the first time. Finally a sane person happened to say there is a hill called Mora and it isn’t really a fort as it was left incomplete during the time of Shivaji. Tough there is not much to see atop, trekkers do climb for the beautiful views. Though initially we were a little upset the words spoken later seemed music to our ears. We set off in the direction and in no time found ourselves at the foothills.
Mordhan was a set of two lofty mountains, the smaller one set adroitly on top of the larger plateau. It looked inviting. However it had got a little sunny and some of them who felt it could be challenging, stayed back. We continued our march respecting the call of the mountain. We kept walking irrespective of all odds – the afternoon sun, the non-gradual climb, no water, etc.
We climbed for half an hour when we were greeted by the locals who were on their way down. Seeing us exhausted they directed us to a small water cistern nearby. Though it was a little off track we rushed there. It was a very small cistern neatly carved out in the rock face that collected the water coming downhill from a live source just a little above. It was clean and clear. It took us no time to dig our mouths into it and gulp it down our throats. Aah! It was so refreshing. The locals had also told us that the water also had medicinal properties. So the kids who suffered from cough and cold were brought here and made to have the water. We quickly gulped some more and continued to walk up.
The people who were behind us had caught up with us by now. A small climb from the water cistern had got up atop the plateau. It was an extensive table top with a lofty rock standing atop it like the sauce bottle. It looked even more challenging and inviting. We walked in it’s shadow while traversing it from the left and that was such a relief from the scorching heat! So we quickly climbed it up and found ourselves atop a small grassy plateau from where we caught a glimpse of the wonderful sights the place had to offer. We spent a while lazing around.
Our watches showed 2:30 pm. We knew it was time to get back. We got down Mordhan. With our lunch done, we hit the road for the long journey once again. However this time everyone was fresh. All the walking we had done had worn out our bodies but refreshed our minds. The chitchatting and the merry making on the way thus made the distance seem to have been covered in no time! The last couple of days were well spent in the lap of nature with a treasure of memories to cherish!