But our craving and our heart set on this place, made us to go for the plan, even though it will be only three of us. I had planned a week long holiday, just in order to make sure I am well prepared for this trek. I had always wanted a quiet time admist the mountains, far away from the all hustle bustle, the much needed “ ME” Time, which I hardly get because of my juggling between two cities from Mumbai to Pune. So this time I was all set to make the most of this 2 days which I was going to spend in the lap of the Jungle. As a child I was always fascinated by the films like “Kaal”, which shows the Tiger reserves, and in the same way I had planned to visit someday.
Previously we had done trekking with the “Sg trekkers”, and we were very much overwhelmed by the experience and this time we did not want to go for some other group. It’s just three of us who know how we had managed to grab our places at the last moment with the “Sg trekkers” as the seats were full and we did not wanted to test our patience and wait till next month in order to visit the place.
Finally our desire was paid off. It was Saturday morning, and I was busy packing my bags , and ensuring that I have checked out each and every item mentioned in this list. Two of my best buddies , Ashish who was more excited then I am and had spent sleepless nights waiting for this day, and then we have Rutuja, who had decided to accompany us, as last time she did not get chance to be with us. We were planning to leave by 1.00 pm on Saturday from Shivajinagar. But I decided to leave a bit late as I know the bus is hardly on time. On reaching ,shivajinagar I was relieved and happy to know that I am not alone any more and there will be some other girls joining in. After a wait for sometime, finally the bus came. Me and Ashish we were already boarded while Rutuja was going to board from Navale bridge.
Once we were all landed in the Bus, we started with the casual talking, and about the whereabouts as we ourselves were meeting after long time. The sun was shining bright at that time, the heat was scrotching , and the waves of heat can be felt even though was on move.
Finally the Fun part began, It started with the “Antakshari”. Divided in 2 teams, Singing the songs with all the might, and trying to make a mark members of both the teams trying competing each other. I was left in the awe with the way the people were singing the songs, when I could hardly remember few lines, there was this person, singing the full song with all the necessary effects. Finally when we were left out of the songs, there was a list of advertisement jingles doing the round. Somehow in between the songs , we reached around satara, the weather started getting cold, and the sun started descending. Slowly we approached and soon we were near the Kaas plateau. I was pretty amazed by the fact that the place like kaas which is full of flowers and one of the best places to visit in monsoons, was left only with the dried grass, and no signs of life. I kept on thinking about this place and the drastic transformation from monsoon to winter. Finally at 6pm, it was stark black and with the narrow roads and the turns we were continued with the journey.
The journey which had started with the unknown people now ended, and with the journey ended the wall of strangeness. Everyone was now comfortable, the Gap was bridged from being completely unknown to the similar faces in the crowd.
Around 6.45 pm, we reached our destination village Bamnoli, we had our round of Tea, and after that we started the preparation of our camp site. This was my first experience of camping, and I just exicted to live in the tent. I always wanted to experience this, A small cozy tent, the campfire, the unknown place and the long long night talks.
After the demonstration on how to prepare the tent, we started with arranging the tents. It was fun experience. The place was so dark, that we had to use the torches, we were not able to see much, But what we knew is we are going to have one of the Best views in the morning. There was already another trekking group who had reached early then us and enjoying the camp fire.
Finally after done with the tent, we few people started making our dinner. The Menu for today was “Pulav” and “dal”. We few people started chopping off the vegetables, while the other group was busy for the camp fire. After the camp fire started another round of the songs. Everyone at that time was so hungry, that we kept on checking in loop to make sure we know as soon as food was ready. We had a talk , talk and talk, then songs songs and another set of songs. Finally the food was ready and I think that was the Best pulav I had till date. I didnt knew the possible reason, But may be we were so hungry at that time, that whatever served at that time was the Best meal at that time.
We had three team leaders from the SG, Vishal, Tousif and Bhagyesh. The dinner was prepared by Bhagyesh, and I think no one would disagree, the dinner we had that day was the best and all the credit goes to Bhagyesh, for the dinner.
The weather was now a bit cold than previous. For hours we were sitting near the camp fire. From poems to experiences in our daily life, one by one we started opening many of incidents from our Life. I never felt for a second that we had met for the first time or I was sitting with a bunch of few unknown people at unknown place. Around 1.30 pm, we decided to go for a sleep,but again after 15 minutes we were back at the campfire, because of the high scale snoring of the other members, and also the tent was too cold to sleep.
So we kept on talking and talking, sitting beside the camp fire. No one to judge you, No one to poke you, it was just a night full of stars, gazing the stars in the moon light, open air and cold breeze.
Around 4.00 am in the morning,another batch of Sg trekkers joined in. Whole night near the Fire, Around 6 in the morning, we started getting ready, and unwinding the tents.
Around 7.30 am we were done. After which we had a breakfast of “Poha” and tea. The view in the morning was breath taking, we visited the local temple in Bamnoli, there was a brace of ducks, with the Quacking sound all over.
We waited for our turn to enter on boat. So after all the necessary arrangements we were asked to board the Boat. There were 12 people in one boat including the Leader from Sg trekkers. We were having Tosuif and Sameer as our captain on board. It was a site worth seeing, Something which was so much soothing for the your eyes and soul. The Blue water, green mountains and for someone who is aquaphile like me, will never want this boat ride to end.
The blue water was somehow adding to the tranquilizng effect. The beauty of the lush mountains and the misty weather was adding moreover to the charm at that time. Then started the round of introduction, and after completion started the dumsheraz. We thoroughly enjoyed everything we had at that moment, Right from dipping our hands in the cold water and letting our hairs go off in air, I did it all.Every minute of boat ride was taking us more and more close to our Dream .So after our hour or so ride in Shiv Sagar lake we reached the base village.
After the necessary permissions and initial check from the Forest department. We started walking , and making our way through the dense jungle. Vasota is also called as the “Vygrahgad” because of the Tiger reserves. The jungle is a home for many animals like sloth bears, wild dogs, bears and tigers. There are two routes to reach Vasota, the one which comes from the Kokan, and the other which we chose from the Bamnoli. The Vasota trek is not confusing as the Path is clearly marked by stones and there is a clear trail, But one mades to make sure that we stay in groups.
Starting patch was almost flat. Few meters after the starting there was a small stream of water flowing. The water present here was clear, and is potable, so before the ascending part this water can be carried in the bottles. The winter is the Best season to visit Vasota, as before winter the place has a ot of leeches. Trekking shoes in good condition is highly advisable as most of 80 % part of trek has dense jungle.
After a Hanuman temple, there is a board pointing towards the trek, From there starts the dense forests. Along the path you can see many boards giving the useful information. Even though wether changed since morning and the sun was bright, we were hardly bothered. Because of the dense forest, the sun rays were unable to penetrate and reach the land and we had a comfortable walk. Then started the Real twist, There were few patches having steep climb. Even tough, I would say it was not difficult, but it was not easy at the same time, because once we completed our patch of steep climb, there would be another patch waiting for us. The continuous steep patches were quite challenging. The real challenge was carrying a heavy backpack, and still keep on walking.
After few hours, and the narrow patches, we finally reached a board pointing to Vasota, there is this ‘Y’ junction, the one path pointing towards the Vasota and the other pointing towards the NAgeshwar caves. People usually do the Vasota- Nageshwar trek in one go, but for us we had only planned for the Vasota, After a walk and wallk, we were finally able to come out of the jungle, and now start experiencing the heat, the view from Top was awesome, and we expected some more awesomeness once we reached the top. There were a set of steps which need to be climbed. But after all the walk and the sunny heat, climbing even a single stair was difficult. Through out the trek we had kept ourselves energized, and all big thanks to Glucose D .
It took us almost 3- 3.5 hrs to reach the top of the Vasota Fort. After reaching there, we tried to find a place for ourselves. As there were number of groups planning the trek on Sundays, the top of the fort was full with different people from numerous places. More than 500 people were present on fort at that time to be precise.
Before coming for Trek, I had done some study, and came to know some facts. It is said that the fort was built by Shilahara Raja Bhoja II from Kolhapur. Vasota is also called as ‘Nandugadh’. Vasota has remained always with the Marathas, Shirkes & Mores in 16th Century. In the 16th Century captured by the Vasota, and named it as “Vyaghragad”, due to natural defense. This fort was used as a prison. The chatrapati shivaji Maharaj, and then the Sambhaji maharaj, the Peshwa Bajirao carried out the mission of invading Mughals. After that British also bombarded the fort with the heavy artillery and destroyed the many buildings on Vasota. So today what we all can see are the remains after the Vasota was destroyed by Britshers.
There were many trees in the vicinity and after that while some people finded peace in sleep, some of the members were busy in discussing the difficulty of trek. Helping each other throughout trek,and waiting for one another, taking all along we reached. We had a lunch of chapatti and bhaji, and I think everyone was so much exhausted, that the food was finished as soon as it was served on plates. The Thecha was the best thing to open the tastebuds.
After which we were divided into 2 groups, and we did some site seeing. After that we did some sight seeing. We could see the Nageshwar peak , There was an old temple which we visited. After that we took the pictures of spectacular view of the Koyna backwater.
There were also the remains of some palace present. All we could see was the outlined structure. As the trees had almost covered the place. So after visiting all the places on forts, and trying to fulfill our eyes with all the beauty, we took the Group picture of all the Members. Although everyone was exhausted, There was a smile on everyone’s face. The faces lit with the accomplishment. It may be a small thing, but all those who have climbed will surely agree, It was one of the experiences of life time.
After that we started our walk down the fort. The downward part was comparatively more easy then the ascending, but we had to be a bit more curious as there were small stones rolling underneath shoes, making us slip through narrow paths.
While coming to the Bamnoli, it was the time of sunset, and I must say I experienced one of the best sunsets, Everyone was quiet in the boat at that time,may be thinking about there experiences. It was the end of our second day and could not believe that I had completed the secnd day with this unknown people. At the End I can totally relate to why it is every trekkers dream. Why every trekker wishes visit Vasota. As the saying, to find yourself, you have to be Lost, and Yes I lost myself just to find a new version of me. The Solace I found at this place, and which helped in rejuvenating myself. When I left I was nothing, but while returning I am carrying a treasure of memories, new experiences and a bunch of new friends .All Thanks to SG Team and my best buddies Ashish and Rutuja, for accompanying me and leaving me with beautiful memories and lust of more and more.