Gadgada aka Ghargad Fort

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My mobile rings and I see it's my friend Shashi calling and I say to myself It was decided that we shall be travelling by train till Kasara and from there we had arranged for the local transport to take us to the base village So on Saturday night I caught Kasara local from Dadar at 11 pm, rest of the guys joined me from Kalyan and it was 1.30 am when we reached Kasara Station.Luckily for us our jeep guy was there on time and 15 of us boarded the poor jeep!!! 

Photo of Gadgada aka Ghargad Fort 1/7 by Aashish Chawla

But then Lo... Aa gaya trek ka invitation and true to my thoughts it was indeed an invitation, because I could hear the voice at other end saying "Apne ko yeh Saturday chalne ka hai" Thanks to weak mobile signal Shashi mutters something like trek ka travel me yeh hi toh maja hai.... AC car me travel kiya toh kya travel kiya. Gadbad hai trek which leaves me bewildered and I blurted "Arre Ghadbad trek hai toh kyo karneka hai, aapan doosre trek ko chalte hai" Shashi must have thought I am crazy because he said "Arre sir woh trek ka naam gadbad hai", Now I lost my temper and said "Arre yaar pehle naam properly dekh le", Shashi was now all into shouting mode and in high pitch said "Sirji its Ghargad not Gadbad.... Arre aap barabar sunte hoi nahi". 

Photo of Gadgada aka Ghargad Fort 2/7 by Aashish Chawla

I sheepishly gave in and said "Dost sorry for the Gadbad....I am ready to come to Ghargad" We left Kasara station by 1.45 am and we took the Mumbai Nasik Highway road. Drive on the kasara Ghat is always a pleasure provided one do not encounter heavy traffic. Our jeep driver has this self earned notion that he is appointed to fly jet fighter so he was upto the task of flying the jeep, weaving and crisscrossing among the lorries, cars and tankers. 

As I was sitting on the front seat so despite it been 2 oclock at night I didn't dare to close my eyes for a second Itna Darr toh scuba diving karte time bhi nahi laga tha. We crossed Ghoti and a further drive of 16kms we saw this sign board of Wadivare Police station from where we leave the highway and turn left after taking the left turn from the highway our jeep moved toward the Gadgada Sangvi Village. Dark night and empty road made the travelling little fast and after fifteen minutes drive I saw this Gadgada Sangvi Village sign board, one needs to drive little 50 mtrs ahead from this sign board and take a right turn in order to reach the base village Gadgada Sangvi.

Photo of Gadgada aka Ghargad Fort 3/7 by Aashish Chawla

It was 2.50 am when we reached the Gadgada Sangvi Village. Sign board told us that that the population of this village is 491 people. It was pitch dark as we entered the village and was given rousing welcome by the stray dogs. Upon entering the village we saw this temple so it was an assuring thought that we wont have to spend the night in chilling cold. It hardly took 5 minutes for everyone to pull out their mats, newspaper and bedsheets and next moment all 15 of us were lying on the cold floor of the temple. The worried dog of the village kept barking non stop and adding to that was the lion roaring ...oops I mean few of our friends snoring made simple sleeping a herculean task. finally at around 4 am the dog who was vociferously barking got tired (I wanted to yell A little bumpy and we finally reached a plateau where there is a temple, 6;30 am and we could hear the blaring sound of bhajans from the temple loudspeaker. (Yaar is kute ko ek Vicks ki goli dede koi..kitna kich kich ???????????? and we all heaved a sigh of relief that NOW when can go to sleep and what happened exactly a second after this silence had us in splits, Yes it was now the Rooster turn!!! because now he started crowing at the top of its voice. Ab choti choti jagah per aisi choti choti pyari baate ho hi jati hai bahi....so enjoy.

Photo of Gadgada aka Ghargad Fort 4/7 by Aashish Chawla

Karvate badalte badlte raat kab guzaar gayi pata hi nahi chala It was 6 am in the morning when we goy up, It was still dark and the skyline was changing colours every minute.As we were getting ready for the trek to start we met one of the local villager who armed with his lota was coming from the fields. I had all the intention of telling him Arre swamiji Pahado me toh shanti rehne do). Bhai Amitabh ko nahi sunte ....Khule me kahe shoch kar rahe ho. But situation demanded diplomacy as we have to gather the information from him. He told us that we better take our jeep till the base of the Gadgada Mountain rather than starting on foot from here as our base point is still 2 kms away from here. Hence all of us again jumped on the jeep and this must be the most bumpier ride of my life as the road was in pathetic condition...I am sorry it was not road I think vehicles passing over the mud have made it look like road. The first thing that we notice is two separate platforms with idols on them

Photo of Gadgada aka Ghargad Fort 5/7 by Aashish Chawla

and next to that there is a small temple, and just little further we see this Hanuman Idol under the tree.These idols have be re shifted because few month back this Hanuman Idol was near the above temple. (Kamaal hai Bhagwan ko bhi shift karte rehte hai)

There is another temple being contructed here.We made our first stop here and requested the swamiji at this place to boil some water for us so that we can have Tea. We soon prepared black tea and were refreshed. The view from here was very beautiful. All of us were ready with our cameras and mobile phone to capture the early morning bliss.The wide stretch of mountains, floating clouds

and the rising sun was peeking out from the horizon slowly, the time simply stood still for a second and we were all waiting with baited breath to see the sun rise.

Photo of Gadgada aka Ghargad Fort 6/7 by Aashish Chawla

Finally the orange burst of colours happened, making the moment almost magical for us and the icing on the cake was the chilling climate of winter...Dil bole boom boom

Standing at the base we could very prominently see another temple on the top of the mountain and the stone carved stairs to reach that.

The locals have painted this stairs so the route from the base to temple can be easily seen.

The steps are uneven and too steep so one must be careful while climbing.

After climbing these stairs within 15-20 minutes we were at the Bhavani Temple. A little climb on the narrow stairs with a creaky steel railing for support.( tip: don't depend on the railing, too risky)

We paid our respect to the gods, sat there was few minutes and got down from those creaky railing stair and started walking towards the right from the base of the temple.

Photo of Gadgada aka Ghargad Fort 7/7 by Aashish Chawla

Basically the main door of the fort is on top,next to the temple, However due to the overhang in between its not possible to climb from here.

The original steps I was told earlier used to come down from there but were blown up by the Britishers. In order to reach the top we have to go towards the right of the temple and traverse till the back and from there we need to encounter 3 rock patches to reach the top.

Following the trial we started to traverse from behind. The walk till the first rock path is narrow, One has to thread carefully as there is clear drop. I too walked the route keeping my body weight towards the mountain side and reached the first rock patch The view from here is amazing, one can see the blue coloured backwater nestled among the mountains with overhang of clouds in the distance. The First Rock patch is very simple. one may or may not use the rope, One big hop and you are standing at the second rock patch. This second rock patch is quite challenging and precaution must be taken to ensure that not more than 4-5 people stand at the base of this rock patch. The holding area is too small. Ravi Sir, Yogesh Sir and Vinayak ji had set up the ropes for this section of rock climbing.As we were gearing up to climb this section when suddendly someone shouted Arre sambhalo udhar samph(Snake) hai , Samph ka naam sunte hi sab ke chehre dekhe wale the.We noticed there was this black snake. everyone froze, Shashi who was suppose to click our pictures for climbing was so scared that he almost started to retreat. We were in a catch 22 situation ." Jagah itni kam thi ki hum bhag ke peeche bhi nahi aa sakte the aur snake ke darr se aage bhi ja nahi sakte the.....socho aisa ho toh kya ho....."

Luckily for us snake was kind enough to go back into its crack in the rock and we started to do our climb. As due to absence of exercise on my part I have put on lots of weight Aaj ek ek kilo ka hissab dena pada jab mere ko yeh climb karna pada, Huffing and panting I completed my climb, my throat was dry but I was very happy that I finally made it to the Top.

Our climber team ensured everyone was safely pulled up and we celebrated this by clicking the group pictures and selfies.

Now the time had come for us to move on from here to explore the top. A little walk on the top and you come across these water cistern. I don't know whether the water is potable or not.There are 5-6 stone steps which go down. Today only 3 steps were visible rest were under water. Shashi and me were left behind as we were busy clicking the pictures. So both of us started to explore the top on our own. As this fort is less frequented hence there was lots of overgrowth of bushes on the top.

Walking little ahead we came across some damaged structure of ancient times. Basically nothing much is left to be seen and just ahead to that there was another set of water cisterns. After exploring this Shashi and me moved towards the west side of the plateau.The view from here is simply amazing because One can see several mountains like Anjaneri and Valadevi, Danfya Pinnacle, Aundha and Bitangad and one can also see Kalsubai range. It was now time for us to move back to the main entrance of the Fort. Surprisingly the main entrance is quite damaged,One has to imagine how it would have looked in its hay days and from this entrance door there are carved stone stairs which get disappeared abruptly because I was given to understand that Britishers had destroyed the steps which earlier used to come down from the top. In order to descend from the Fort One has to rapel from this doorway and land near the Temple top of Bhavani Temple. Climbing from Bhavani temple to this gate is not possible because of the overhang which comes in between. Another thrilling session of rappelling for us to get down from here added all the fun. I enjoyed every moment of suspension in the air .looking down at the valley below In no time all our team members reached the Bhavani temple. Now the descend down the stone stairs was the next in agenda, Few of the first timer were feeling jittery while descending but I found it to be fun and in a jiffy we were at the base where we regrouped and had our lunch under the shade of a tree.As our Jeep was waiting for us so we jumped on to it and bid final adieu to Ghargad where thankfully there was no Gadbad....Snake episode not withstanding.

 1. This is a technical trek 2.Please carry 100 feet and 30 feet rope. 3.It is not possible to climb the fort from the temple side as the steps are destroyed and the rock section has a overhang which makes climbing or ascend from here almost impossible. 4. one can only descend from the top by rappelling. 1. I was given to understand that there are ST buses which ply from Nasik every hour but these buses go only till Vadivhire ST Standand not till Gadgada Sangvi Village. After that one has to walk 4 kms to reach the base village or alternatively one can wave some local tempo.Travel Tips: 2, Best option would be to hire a jeep from Kasara station and reach Gadgada Sangvi Village. 3, Please carry your food as I didn't see any shop at the base village.

This post was originally published on Trekking Moments.

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