With 2019 setting in a fresh list of travel destinations had made it to my pin up board and desktop to keep reminding myself of the long travel list that had barely been scratched last year. With a lot of determination and thought I signed up for my first trek of 2019. Fort Vasota in Maharashtra with Outdoor Ventures. I had my share of good experience with Outdoor Ventures during my trip to Tarkarli for Scuba diving in 2018. The Vasota Fort trek was a special one as it had been on my list for quite sometime and the sheer idea of approaching the fort through a forest was super thrilling !

Bags packed with basic minimum necessities, we headed out for what was an action packed 24 hours of travel and trekking. Our minibus left Pune at 11:00 pm picking up trekkers enroute ‘Tetli’. This town of Tetli is situated on the banks of the huge Shivsagar Lake. This lake was formed after the Koyna dam was built on the Koyna river resulting into this 50 km long lake with an approx max depth of 300 feet. The Vasota fort can be approached from Tapola and Bamnoli which are more popular locations along the banks of the Shivsagar lake. Tetli being less popular is slightly less crowded allowing us to soak in the beauty around. We reached Tetli around 02:30 am and quickly vanished into our tents to catch some sleep.

Everyone was up without the mandatory wake up call and after a cup of hot tea and some piping hot breakfast we set out in boats to the base of the fort. The sun had lit up the green tree tops adding a bit of magic to the cold morning. The access to the fort requires permission from the forest department which can be obtained at Bamnoli. Lush green tree cover on both sides of the lake has turned it into a perfect habitat for wildlife. Birds could be seen swooping down on fish creating artistic patterns on the water. After a scenic boat ride through the backwaters of Koyna dam our boat carrying fifteen of us reached the base of the fort.

A forest check post at the base of the fort ensured we had all plastic bottles accounted for and paid a deposit as a prompt promise to bring back all out litter back with us – a great initiative in my opinion. The trek was a smooth walk through a dense cover in the beginning. Tall trees ranging from a few feet to about a hundred feet or more ensured the temperature was always in check. As we begun walking our jackets quickly came off as it got slightly warmer.

Almost a kilometer into the trek the forest trail suddenly opened up into a scenic glade. A beautiful stream tumbled across the rocks creating a silent whisper in the woods. On one side of the stream was an ancient temple of ‘Lord Hanuman’. Trekkers filled their bottles with fresh stream water as that was the last refilling point before the treacherous climb. The trail got narrower with a blend of sharp inclines and long straight walks as a relief at regular intervals.

The sights around changed fast as we continued to navigate the inclines and loose rocks. Intermittent stops for a quick sip of water and a snack to replenish energy that was lost ensured a good pace as we kept going on. After covering more than seventy percent of the trail the green cover suddenly opened up allowing us an amazing view of the distance we had covered.

tougher the climb better the view

After a final few steep steps we negotiated our way to the top of the fort and happily plonked ourselves under a small tree but not before we had taken a few mandatory selfies as a reward. The fort was buzzing with activity as it had been a weekend and one of the best seasons to visit the fort. An ancient Shiva temple on one side of the fort stands tall but in a desolated state. As most forts this one too had three huge water tanks that got its water from a water spring. The water was fresh once the top cover of dried leaves was pushed aside.

It is understood in 15th century the fort was alternatively ruled by More’s of Jawali & Shirkes of Chiplun. In 17th century it was included in Maratha Swaraj by Shivaji Maharaj & it remained with Marathas till 1818 and it was used to keep prisoners & ammunition due to it’s strategic safe location.

Tip: The fort remains closed from June till October as the monsoon makes its approach difficult.

We quickly finished our packed lunches and began exploring the rest of the fort. The Babu Kada or cliff stood majestically tall flanking the konkan side of the range. On a clear day the range would present a sharp view of the konkan belt. The fort had also been called ‘Vyagragadh’ – meaning Tiger fort because of its natural defence. On one side of the fort is visible a peak called ‘The Nageshwar‘. A distinct snake-head like structure stands out

After soaking in the views we headed downhill with a slightly better pace just enough to keep our balances in check. We reached the base of the fort and hopped into our boat but not before we had accounted for all the plastic we had taken with us. The scenes on our way back summarized the entire days trek and the experience it had given us.

. . . with a promise to return

a trekkers thoughts

ढलती हुई शाम को देखके, कुछ अल्फ़ाज़ों ने दी मेरे दिल पे दस्तक,
ख़ामोशी का ये जाम आखिर चलेगा कब तक !!
बहता हुआ पानी ढूंढ रहा था अपना किनारा,
डूबते सूरज की रौशनी से भरा था आसमान सारा
रिश्तों की गहराइयाँ समझ जा मेरे दिल,
बहोत शिद्दत से ढूंढी है मैंने तुम्हारी मंज़िल
– मधुरा

translation:

the heart felt a subtle tug of words, as the evening cast its spell, is there an end to the silent fervor life has to offer. drifting currents longed the propinquity of shores alike, as the sun continued to paint the canvas of the sky with shades of love and cry. get one with your destiny and understand the meaning of every presence, as the creator has wisely chosen the right path for you.

with a lot of new friends and some amazing memories we bid good bye to each other to carry on with our own lives.

This blog post would not have been complete without the mention of Nupur, Divesh and Ajinkya for their pictures, amazing company by Dr Sonal, Abhijeet, Arvind, Chaitali, Kimaya & Dipali, Kumar, Sandeep for his amazing singing skills and Vihaan for his amazing trekking skills at the age of six, Madhura for those beautiful lines she wrote for this post and last but not the least – Nikhil from Outdoor Ventures for being an amazing trek leader, host and friend !

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