I must have been frog in my previous birth, the monsoons have a strange effect on me, I just cant stay put in the cozy comforts of my home once it starts raining. Not sure what comes upon me and this time it was Kalsubai calling. Kalsubai by the way is apparently the highest point in Maharashtra as proclaimed by some. However i have also seen something similar written in Wilson point in Mahabaleshwar also proclaiming that its the highest point in western india. Anyways i dont want to get into the details of it.
I planned to reach Bhandardara in the afternoon spend the evening there and camp in Bhandardara in the wilderness some where or get to Bari village - the base village of kalsubai and camp there for the night. Then in the morning climb up Kalsubai and return. So for this trip I had a plan, not that i have stuck to my plans historically anyways atleast this time i had a plan! I left Pune early in the morning adorning two raincoats and a bag with my tent stuffed in. As expected it was raining and in fact all through the trip it was raining or raining heavily.
I took the Nasik highway from Pune. The traffic in Nasik highway for that matter any highway out of Pune apart from the Pune Bangalore Highway is erratic. Road sense amongst the public is appaling and the quality of roads leaves a lot to be desired. Anyways one good thing on this highway is the Ambika hotel rather a small dhaba run by a woman at about 50Km out of Pune after Rajgurunagar. She gives amazing chai and nice vada paavs! To continue with the trip I reached Narayangao in about 2.5-3 hrs. Narayangao is about 90 Km out of Pune. The rain was now very heavy and pouring would be a better word to descride it than raining. I stopped again for another round of chai. While sitting in the dhaba i saw a signboard announcing that Shivneri fort was just 18 Kms. I tried to ignore it as Shivneri was not something that i had planned for. After chai i continued my trip, again the signboard came up with Junnar and Shivneri Fort. This time i took the turn! Everything's meant to be broken anyway mine was just a plan!!
The road to Shivneri was in good condition and i reached the fort in half an hour. Safety was not a mojor concern for Shahaji Bhonsle Shivaji's father, i think, as this fort wasnt very high or difficult to reach. At the gate of the fort there was only one tea stall unlike our Sinhagad in Pune where there is a profusion of teastalls. I gave my bag to the chaiwallah for safe keeping as it was quite heavy. There was an old man sitting there under the tree near the stall. He must have been over 80, maybe even ninety years old. He enquired who i was to the chaiwallah and where i was from. While he was leaving he came upto me, shook my hand and patted my shoulder said something in marathi and slowly walked off. Now it was my turn to be curious. I learnt later that he was a freedom fighter, now runs a few schools and colleges and was cabinet minister for couple of terms!
Shivneri Fort was in quite good condition, Archaeological dept has a major hand in keeping it that way i soppose. There were seven massive gates leading to the fort and a couple of manicured gardens. Considering the number of people frequenting this fort the place was remarkably clean. I dont remember seeing anything littered anywhere. The Shivai temple is on the way to the right. Shivai is the goddess of fort Shivneri - the Godesss after whom Jijabai named her son Shivaji. The temple is really worth looking with excellent carving on its door.The Amberkhana comes next. The arcaeological dept has put up signboards on almost all the major structures. The way ahead leads to the badami talao and Shivkunj with the statue of young Shivaji and Jijabai. Shiv-janmasthan or Birthplace of Shivaji Maharaj - The Wada or small palace where Shivaji was born is still in place. This is a two story structure at the ground floor of which, this great king was born. The remnants around the building are now being rebuilt.
Kadelot is the steep edge of Shivneri from where criminals were thrown down as punishments. View of Junnar city and Lenyadri hill is amazing from here.
Shivneri is much more than a picnic spot near Pune. Its more of a pilgrimage for most of the ardent Marathas. If you visit Shivneri try to be respectful to the place and the tradition that it upholds. For the records Shivneri Fort is about 110 Km from Pune on the Pune Nashik Highway and from Narayangao its about 18 Kms.