Friday, July 18, 2008

Raigad Ropeway, June2008

Pune, Saturday, June 28th, 2008

I was scheduled to reach Panvel at 6 AM on the 29th. Which means I should leave Pune by 3 AM. Any earlier would mean I am stranded at Panvel. Any later would mean the rest of the guys who are coming from Mumbai will have to wait. I called Saurabh, my cousin and asked him to get a couple of pints of beer so we could spend the evening and he could drop me off at shivajinagar bus stand at 2:30 AM.

Pune, Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Saurabh went to meet his friends at 1 AM. I was sure he will come back and he did at 2:45He dropped me off as schedule and I boarded a 3AM ST for Panvel. We left at 3:11 AM.Ticket Rs 62.

As the bus passed and I got into a rocking motion, I slided into a nice refreshing 90 mins of sleep. The sharp left and right turns of the bus woke me as I realised I had slept for a significant part. We were passing through a series of pillars and it was not hard for me to identify that this was Khandala.45 mins later and I was getting ready to alight at Panvel.

The rest of the guys joined me at 6:30 and we moved towards Raigad.
Raigad was 140 kms from Mumbai. Atleast that is what the raigad website mentioned. Around the 140 km mark, Raigad was no where close by. Our conversations had picked pace and we were bitching (yes... even boys do bitch, but we never accept it) about various things.

Enroute, 9:40 AM

As I was looking out of the window, I sae this rock cut cave structure up in the Sahyadri range. I knew I wanted to see it but was not sure how the others would react. However I had to stop by and take a couple of snaps. We halted and saw the beautiful rock cut caves. Similar to the structute at Karla caves. I had never heard of this but looked intersting. We asked the village ladies who were carrying the way up and they told us that there is a staircase path up the mountain just a couple of hundred meters ahead. All of us jumped on the opp. As we ascended and got closer we saw there were atleat 50 rooms built up there. These rooms were all carved into the mountain and the I was in complete awe of the perfect corners made by the sculptor in each room. The view from the rooms of the valley coupled with the overcast green conditions of the monsoons, was outstanding and left us breathless.
We would have spent a lot more time there but our main aim was to go to the Raigad Ropeway which we had no clue how much more time we will take. The rains had also made most the rock section slippery and visiting the rooms on the higher sections was a little risky.

Raigad Ropeway Lower Station, 11:30

We moved on towards Raigad. And after about 45 mins we actually reached the foothills of Raigad. The cable car at the hieght was looking really small and the thought that we will be in that car got the adrenalin rushing.Another 30 mins of settling down getting fresh etc and we started the climb up in the cablecar. What appeared to be a very slow moving object from a distance was actually very fast in reality. After all the cable car covers the height of about 1300 ft in 4 mins. At Rs150 this was a steal. Normally the climb would have taken us atleast 2hrs and we had a couple of people in our group who got butterflies in the stomach as we went into higher altitudes. After some time we were completely engulfed in the cloud and could only see the white cloud around us. In fact the upper station appeared suddenly and we realised that our 4 mins were over in what appeared like probably 4 seconds. In India we are not used to cable cars, secondly being a trek enthusiast I would have normally gone up the fort in foot. This though was a very pleasant change and I enjoyed in thoroughly.

Once on top We caought hold of a local boy to show us around. He showed us some places like the Mena Darwaza, The queens palaces, the office structure, Shivaji's residence structure, the Diwan-e-Khas and Diwan-e-Aam. Shivaji's Throne replica etc. Along with the guided tour he also used to tell us small stories or background regarding the importance of the structure.Being overcast and the fact that we were inbetween a very thick cloud blanket, the visibility was very poor and we could not enjoy the view.

In my opinion every fort must be visited atleast twice, in the monsoon and the nonmonsson season so my second trip is definitely due.

We went upto the market area which is actually pretty intact as compared to the rest of the fort. This is where it started pouring really heavily and we had to take refuge behind a small wall. We were still getting wet but atleast the raindrops were not piercing into the bare areas of our body. And then out of nowhere comes this teenager selling tea. A nice cuppa tea and we were all set to go but not before the lured us into garam garam zunka bhakar. We agreed to fall for his bait as the idea was too tempting for us. We went to the Jagdeshwar temple and the Shiv Samadhi and then had the Zunka Bhakar. The earthen hut that he took us to was well insulated from the rain and cold outside and we could see the vapours coming out of our mouth even as we spoke.
A doze of bhakri and we were off again. This time again the rain was pouring very heavily and we were practically jogging our way to the upper station of the ropeway. The visibilty was so low that we met an old lady asking her way back to the ropeway upper station. she has lost track of her group and got lost. I was leading our group and was able to recollect the path inspite of the visibility.Soon we were heading down to the warmer areas in the lower station.This is where we changed into some dry clothes and had our lunch. Rs 75 for an unlimited veg thali... costly but we enjoyed it.

4PM and we were on our way back.We all had a lot of fun. We were back to bithching on our way back.

O yes... Mumbai Raigad... 200 kms, not 140 kms as mentioned on the raigad website.

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