“Abhi jana hai kya aage?” Sanidhya asked
“Bhai iss speed se jayenge toh aadhe raste se baki log hamein wapis aate milenge!” Said Sairaj
“Poora toh aaj nahi hoga, jitna hoga utna toh karte hai na.” Said Dhananjay.
“Thoda abhi aur upar jayenge na toh elevation milega aur photos ache aayenge.” I added
“Prachi aaja, baith yahan..” said Sairaj when Prachi and Rinky were passing by.
“Prachi tu inke saath hai ya mere sath? Chal hum pura upar tak jane wale hai.” Said Rinky.
Our apparent group of 5 boys and 3 girls was having two opinions about climbing the mountain cliff of Rajgad Fort. We were the last amongst 80 other trip members. Rinky and Prachi were from the organization committee themselves. Halting at every 150 meters climbed, we had already finished our water bottles midway. Rinky and Prachi were still faster because they were the organization’s team members and they must not fail to reach the fort. The 5 boys – Dhananjay, Gajanan, Sairaj, Sanidhya, and Me were lagging behind. As the first two dialogues might conclude, we were doubting that would we even reach the fort? On reaching around 700 feet below the fort entrance, we boys found the girls Muskan, Rinky, and Prachi halting there. Rain started. We all kept our smartphones in Prachi’s waterproof bag and started going further. This last section was a very steep cliff. There was no going back now because nobody appeared coming towards us and climbing seemed easier than retreating. The very sincere-looking Muskan had so much luggage in her backpack that it was practically impossible to climb up with that. Despite that, she made it before the rest of us. That was indeed very inspiring. Muskan’s consistency, Rinky’s responsibility as a secretary, Dhananjay’s enthusiasm of going ahead, and my sheer wish to go to as high an altitude as I can, ended up we being on the fort eventually!
On the right moment when WICASA Secretary Rinky Khithani posted about Rajgad Trek, I quickly filled up the form and paid the fee. I was lucky, the seats filled up in just a few hours after that.
With 2 Buses full of 90 students including WICASA committee members, the journey towards Rajgad was very enjoyable. 6 kilometers before the destination, the police officers stopped our buses. It took around 1 hour to get a grant for the journey ahead.
Initially, we weren’t just 8. Dashrath, Pooja, Avinash, Sagun went up so fast and literally disappeared. Dashrath and Sagun are indeed professionals when it comes to Trekking. Our turtle gang was left behind. Still, Abhiraj was with us for a considerable time and then he also geared up. The humidity and heat were making our gasps louder as we were walking further. We started taking many halts which had definitely cost our already limited time. But as described above, we made it to the fort.
I have been living in Pune for a few years. The nature gift of Sahyadri ranges and the fortresses legacy of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj would never keep you away from visiting them. Rajgad happens to be the first Capital Fort of Shivaji Maharaj’s Empire. Located on a hilltop named Murumb Devacha Dongar, the fort is 4514 feet high above sea level. There is no rope-way to make it convenient or faster, steeper slopes with only railings for your support and no staircases; the trek is definitely very tough. It was my first time to visit Rajgad, the first trek this much high in the last 12 years!
Many amongst us explored the fort. Some guys even reached Suvela Machi, the peak of Fort. This view in the picture above has been captured at Suvela Machi by Sagun. The fort takes more than a day to visit fully. We were just roaming nearby the Padma Lake. Prachi, the one who said “Mujhe chakkar aane laga hai” while climbing, went ahead in full speed after we reached the gates. Prachi and Dhananjay saw much of the fort. I was happy noticing the lush green nature and enjoying the elevation from the Chor Darwaja only.
Amidst all of this, this thought hit me many times that how could Shivaji Maharaj even managed to rule over these mountains when they are so tough to climb. How was it possible for his soldiers to raid and attack these forts at night? Reading in books about Maharaj and his Mavale is a different thing. You can only get the knowledge of history through that. Climb these forts up and you’ll feel the history yourself. The echoing chant I recited loudly during our climb was indeed out of this realization.
Descending, Sugar Factory Visit and Return Journey
After around an hour and a half, we started descending the mountain. Now, this was the real challenge because the same 700 feet steep cliff was the first step of the return journey. Slowly and firmly putting every step, Me, Sairaj, Sanidhya, Gajanan and Prachi were going back. Dhananjay also joined us after a while.
Climbing up was exhausting yet enjoyable. Returning was a little painful as I started having a mild headache. All my group members except Gajanan and Muskan changed bus. Now the buses were heading for the Sugar Factory visit. Every one of us was too hungry. The arrangements for lunch were in the town where the factory was located. The lunch happened to be the dinner. Then we visited the sugar factory and returned to Pune at 12:30 in the midnight.
Well, many criticised Team WICASA for mismanagement of this trip. Though they couldn’t predict the possible delay and further inconvenience, they did manage well. Some of the big issues in the trip were inevitable. Team WICASA deserves appreciation to get the grant from Police officers. Team WICASA was responsible enough to get their food only after all the trip members have it. All these WICASA Committee members are students undergoing articleship, just like us. Place us in their stead and imagine the pressure of responsibility. You truly did a fantastic job Pune WICASA. We had a memorable experience.
Moments to Remember!
Be there the actual chemistry between some guys and girls or a cooked-up chemistry just to tease some of them, this cute, gentle leg-pulling was what I enjoyed the most. The medley (or song ruining ceremony as I like to call it) during the journey, the shayaris that I recited was a legit fun. There was an adventure as well. Someone from my group had stolen the Bakarwadi packet from Rinky’s bag and kept it inside mine. She got to know about it while climbing and shouted at Dhananjay. I hope she had taken it in a sporting way! Avinash, Dashrath, Dhananjay, Sairaj, Pruthviraj, Sanidhya are already my friends for many years. The new ones I made in the are Gajanan, Rinky, Prachi, Abhiraj, Monika, Pravin and Muskan. In the return journey, the deep conversation about life I had with Gajanan was very relaxing.
The last time I had this much fun, I was in 10th standard, on a school trip. I am so grateful that I had this trip. Thank you Pune WICASA for this memorable experience!
Dnyanesh Make “The DPM”