Rajgad to Torna Overnight Trek. April 29, 2018

by - Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Overnight Trekking in Pune Covering Two Historical Forts and Amazing Scenery

Overview of the trek. You can zoom in to see the details. Pictures are mapped to the spot where they were taken.

"Welcome to the Pune Lohegaon airport", the pilot announced. "The local time is 9pm and the temperature outside is 40 degree celsius". There was an audible gasp in the plane. My mind raced to the overnight trek I was about to embark upon. It was overnight because it is too hot to do it in the day time. So much for that.

I landed in Pune, India on April 28 after a nearly 24 hour journey from San Francisco. Before I left San Francisco I had found that some of my friends were planning to do a trek in Pune. Their plan was as follows:

- Start at 9pm on April 28. Climb Sinhgad then continue on to the town of Vinzar
- Take a car from Vinzar to the base of Rajgad then continue with the rest of the trek

Since my flight landed at 9pm, I could not join for the first part of the trek. However, I decided to join them for the second part which was also the tough part.

After a short 1-1:30hr rest at home, I left at 12:30am in a car and went to Vinzar to wait for the group to arrive. It was a 1:30hr+ drive. There was no cell phone coverage on the trail so we couldn't really coordinate the timing and I hoped that I wouldn't have to wait too long for them to arrive. Fortunately I only had to wait about 15 minutes.

From left to right: Rajendra, Anu, Samir, Makrand, Harshad and Jai (me). The picture was taken much later - after daybreak

At this point the rest of the group had already covered about 10 miles. We all drove in the car to the base of Rajgad and got ready to start the climb to Rajgad. From here the trek had three main segments:

  1. Climb to Rajgad
  2. Trek along the ridge from Rajgad to Torna 
  3. Climb down from Torna

Climb to Rajgad

Rajgad (Raj=Rule, Gad = Fort). The fort  was the capital of the Maratha empire in 17th century. 

We started our climb at 3:30am. It was a full moon light so for the most part we were able to walk without turning on our headlamps. It was a fairly steep climb and became harder as we got near the top. 

Last part of the climb was really steep and rocky. Railings have been installed for protection

We entered the fort from Chor Darwaja (Chor = thief, Darwaja = door). It essentially means secret door.

It took us a little over 2 hours to climb Rajgad. We stopped for a bit to eat.

Reflection of full moon in the Padmavati Lake at Rajgad. There is an interesting camel shaped tree in the background

Rajgad to Torna : Ridge Walk

It was nearly dawn when we started walking towards Torna. We walked through the ruins of Rajgad fort a bit before hitting the trail.

Walking on the clouds!
Unique double wall architecture of the fort
The valley below was filled to the brim with fog. Soon the fog started spilling over to the other side. It was just an unreal sight
Silhouette of Rajgad fort behind us. Note the lone tree in the middle

Sunrise time 

We saw some pretty wildflowers along the way
Thin veneer of fog above the valley

The sun is now out in full glory casting our shadows in the valley below
View of the ridge trail going from Rajgad to Torna. Makrand and Rajendra are on the trail
There were constant ups and downs on the trail. For the most part the trail was navigable. However some parts were really steep and rocky and highly treacherous. One wrong step could plunge you down into the abyss. It was hard at times to find firm footing specially with tired legs. There were many sections where the trail wasn't very obvious. Fortunately our lead trekker, Makrand had done this trek a few times and knew the area quite well. At times he had to go by instincts but they always turned out to be spot on!

Tough climb was rewarded with some spectacular views
Cheers! Finally reached Torna fort
It took us 4 hours from Rajgad to Torna. By now it was really hot. Although we were carrying a lot of water, we had started to run out and there was still a long way to go. Fortunately we found a small shop at Torna and bought a few water bottles there.

Torna fort is historically significant because it was the first fort captured by Shivaji. He was only 16 year old at the time!

Climb down from Torna

There were railings for most of the section on the way down
I was hoping that the climb down was going to be easy. It turned out to be anything but! We were climbing down on steep rocky cliffs which were often slippery due to gravel. Fortunately there were metal railings on either sides which we could use for support.

We completed our descent at 12 noon and then drove back home.

It was definitely one of the tougher treks I have done. But I was really scenic which made it totally worth the effort.


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