Posted by: Brad Beaman | May 30, 2013

Rajgad Photo Essay

I set out with a plan for a bicycle ride around the Rajgad and Torna fort area. I woke up at 5am and put my bicycle on the vehicle rack and left before 6 am. The route was on NH4 out of Pune toward Bangalore and past the toll booth. When I was at my turn at State Highway  SH65 there were many Mahindra Force vehicles parked there. I began to wonder if those were taxis or tourist vehicles to take tourists up Rajgad. Would I be able to ride up Rajgad like at Purundar or Sinhagad? This changed my cycling route to the smaller road to the Rajgad base at Gujavane. I parked on NH65 at Margsangi village and started cycling from there. The answer was that there was no driving road up Rajgad, but now with what I had already done I was changing my plans from a bicycle ride to lock my bicycle at the base of Rajgad  and Trek up.

Rajgad ride

After ordering tea and buying another liter of water I called my wife to let her know my change of plans. Before I paid for my tea I heard the people in the tea shop discussing how much they should charge me to park my bicycle. I heard someone say 10 rupees and another 20 rupees. When I went to pay for my tea and water bottle the price was 20 rupees. I told the shop keeper I had tea this was for tea and water. Sometimes water is 20 rupees sometimes 15 rupees. He hesitated and said 25 rupees. The parking attendant charged me 10 rupees with a receipt and pointed me in the direction of the path. There was a crowd of several boys around my bike touching the gears so the shop owner had me put it under the ledge of the shop.

Rajagad view

Normally when I go on some ride or trek I have pre-planned the route. I was unsure of myself because of changing my plans mid course and just how big of a climb Rajgad is. To climb Rajgad without thinking I would trek up it when I started out is not my usual pattern. The parking attendant pointed me in the direction of the trail, which happened to be the opposite direction I was going to walk. I started down the trail and then a villager stopped me and pointed me in another direction taking a small path which forked off the mail trail. From there everything looked like a goat path and there seemed to be countless of them. I could see my destination but I did not stand much of a chance getting there if I did not find the correct path and stay on it. Then three old village women carrying huge loads of wood on their heads started shouting. I could not understand them but I knew what they were saying, “This is not the path up Rajgad you need to go back that way.” So I went back and before long I was in the deepest densest forest of all time. Then I heard something moving in the thick underbrush and I caught sight of a huge Hanuman Languor Monkey. Then I heard something else really big. What was that? A deer or another Languor or a leopard maybe? I passed a mango tree and a fig tree both full of fruit so I started making survival plans if I never found my way out of the thicket. It was approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit and I had less than one and a half liters of water.

Rajgad local

I stopped to look at my GPS.I saw a faint line of a walking trail. I zoomed in and it was a walking trail and I was nowhere close to it. I needed to go about 200 or 300 meters straight up. I was climbing up what would have been a waterfall in the rainy season. I had cuts all over from the underbrush and the thorns on them. My arms and legs were bleeding and it looked worse because I was covered in sweat. I worked my way toward the trail and finally I was on a huge wide path and definitely the right path. I had seen no other human since the old ladies shouted at me to go back the other way. Now decision time. Was I over my head in this trek and in this heat. Would I go on up to Rajgad after all I had already been through? Yea I going to try it. Down to one liter of water but I am going to try it.

The GPS shows how far I strayed from the path despite the guidance.

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On the path and ready to hike on up.

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I felt much better being on the trail and out of the Languor Monkey turf but I still had some lingering worries. There was not another soul to be seen going up Rajgad and I had one liter of water. It was going to be really hot soon and I was going through my water fast. I thought that I could do Rajgad another time. Then I thought when? This could be my only chance I am going for it.

The trail spikes up toward the end getting really steep

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Glad the rails are there to help pull up.

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I just could not believe how steep the trail got toward the top. This was turning into more of a rock climb than a trek. There were very secure rails that I could use to hold on to and help pull myself to the top.

Rajgad Brad

I stopped to find my bicycle gloves so I would not burn my hands on the hot rails. I was thrilled to see the entrance to the fort. The entrance to the fort looked more like a secret passage and was barely big enough to fit through. Then up some ridiculously steep steps and in Rajgad.

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I was so excited to be inside Rajgad and I think you will be able to tell from the video clips I made and posted here. It took me almost 2 hours to get up on top but I was only going to stay about 10 minutes and get back down to that tea shop as fast as I could. Going back down has its advantages but one major disadvantage is the loose stones and dirt on the path. It is very difficult to go far without a fall on this kind of path. I fell twice on this type of path coming down another trail last year. It happened I fell and hurt my already sore shoulder catching myself. I slowed the pace down and sometimes walked along beside the path were there was grass growing and better traction. Back near the bottom I again had trouble following the trail but with the GPS I found my way back to the tea shop. Again I had a bottle of water and a tea. This time I was charged 20 rupees. I laughed to myself that the five rupees less was sort of a right of passage for making it up the Rajgad climb.

Video captures some of getting up the steep parts.

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