Shivtharghal

Dairy entry

The Tamhini and Varandha ghat can be seen as two exits from the Deccan to the Konkan region via the Sahyadris. The roads of both are chisleed out of high rocky slopes, giving the riders a panoramic view of the beauty of the mountains. The monsoon adds a dash of bright green to the picteresque hills and streaks the mountains with innumerable white lines of falling water. Varandha is a little more unexploited than Tamhini, although is fast being discovered.

My intial plan was to climb the Kavlya (kAvaLgaD) fort. From Bhor, i took a share taxi going towards Mahad. Not being my lucky day, no one i met could guide me to the base of the fort. I continued to travel beyond Varandha ghat and reached Baarasgaon, where I alighted to proceed towards Shivtharghal. The sun slightly peeked through the clouds as i waited for a six seater to take me through the next 15 KM to Shivtharghal. An over crowded shuttle that arrived after an hour was gracious enough to take me on a wonderful ride through tribal settlements covered in lush green, overlooked by high mountains.

When i reached Shivtharghal at noon, the rains were pouring crazy. I visited the cave shrine of Samarth Ramadas (it was here that he authored the magum opus Daasbodh). The cave tucked behind a massive waterfalls was truly a serene setting. I had delicious hot Khichdi served (for free) at the ashram and took another shuttle back to Baarasgaon. 

From here i boarded a bus going to Pune, but got down midway at Wagje (the highest point on Varandha ghat, offering a panoramic view of the valley below). Engrossed in shooting the hills from various angles, i went into the hills and suddenly. like a miracle the Kavlya fort appeared in front of my eyes (I had seen photos before). I trod towards the top, crossing carved stone steps. In half an hour the rains again poured wildly, making it impossible to proceed further. I descended down to the road soon.  

The wait for the bus back from Wagje was frustrating. The one last bus that passed the road, refused to stop as it was already full. By six, the place was dark as night! One helpful Chaiwala declared that he'll be leaving by 6:30 and he can take me with him to his village if i don't find a way back till then. A tempo van fully loaded with broiler hens came to my rescue. The driver was a cordial person, who accidentally pointed to the photo of 'Samarth Ramadas' in his vehicle, proclaiming proudly 'How on earth will you be stranded without help, when you have just visited the shrine of the benevolent saint?'. I was deeply touched and offered a silent prayer to the saint who protected me that day.

Itinerary

Took the 7 'o clock bus from Swargate to Bhor (55 KM). After breakfast at Bhor took a share taxi towards Mahad and Got down at Baarasgaon (~80 KM, 50 Rs.) and a six seater from ther till Shivtharghal (12 KM). 

After lunch, took another shuttle to Baarasgaon, shuttle to Varandh village and bus to Wagje. (Last bus from Wagje to Pune is at 3:30 PM). After all the sight seeing hitch hiked on a tempo till Bhor and took a bus to Pune at around 8 PM.


Album

Farmers at work (Kasbe shivthar village)

Chiseled out road (Wagje)

Varandha ghat valley (Wagje)

Kavlya fort

On the way up the fort.