Have you ever Googled the number of historical forts in India?? I have and was astonished to find that nearly half of them were right here in my home state of Maharashtra!! No wonder we see so many trekkers, thanks to these mighty old structures. I have been on a few such treks, but the most memorable one so far has been the journey to the Torna Fort. It is said to be one of the highest and largest fortress in the Pune district. And also, the most difficult. Thankfully, with rock climbing and marathon practices, I am well attuned with treading tough terrains. After having explored other smaller forts around Pune, my weekend trek buddies and I thought of giving the Torna Fort a try. A good idea for a weekend trip from Pune. It was towards the end of the rainy season, and peak season for trekkers in these areas. We decided to opt for a comfortable and cheap Pune taxi service and luckily found one.
For the uninitiated, here is a little background of the fort. It is one of the largest and most prominent forts of Maharashtra and occupies a significant place in the history of the region and its place. It is said that when Shivaji was only 16 years old, he overthrew a battalion of Mughal Army, who were seated in this fort. After defeating the Mughals, the young Maratha ruler captured the entire fortress and turned it into an important center of the Maratha Empire.
The Start :
Torna fort sits near the Velhe village, 50 km away from the Pune city. In fact, Velhe is the base village or point, from where the trek to Torna Fort begins. So our destination, by the taxi, was this village. It took us almost two hours on the highway and down the muddy dirt roads through the villages to reach the base point. The route from Velhe was a little less complicated and good for a day trek.
We drove through Velhe for about 10 minutes and reached the newly built parking space from where we started our journey on foot. It was an adventurous route till the parking area too. But we were glad to have availed a reliable Pune car rental with an expert driver, who knew the roads very well.
According to the indication in Google Map, the further journey to reach the top of the fort was of about two hours walk. But slippery slopes and rain puddles with tiredness along the way might restrict our speed and enlarge our time to reach the top.
It all started with easy hiking on the flat roads and gradually becoming difficult with the uphill. The route was simple and straight with no curves or turns, or sudden cliffs. But as we gained height, it started getting steeper and tough.
Gradually we got used to with the terrain and started enjoying the surrounding views. Flanked on mountains on both sides, the views enroute were amazing. The rains brighten the views of hills and the valleys. Peaks became more prominent. To add to the vistas, the weather was equally wonderful, preventing us from extreme exhaustion. We took a short break after covering almost 70 percent of the route, as from that point, the trail was harder and steeper. which required more energy and stamina. There were guardrails on the edges for safety, but we still need to be careful with the slopes. This trek is not recommended for the beginners, especially during the rainy season.
Finally after two and a half hours, we reached the fort premises. It sat atop a steep cliff, looming over the villages below.
A quick glance at the fort explained why this is so important to the region. In simpler words, it was massive with breath-taking views of Sahyadris. A huge stone wall snaked through the mountain ridges on either sides and protected the main fortress.
Some of the old stone gateways and bastions had still managed to survive through the struggles of time and tide. The most prominent things to see were the Kothi Darwaja, Hanuman Bastion and Zunjar Machi (stronghold of the fort).
We spent some time enjoying the spectacular views from the top and soon started our walk back to the base.
The downhill walk felt more difficult since we had to be extra careful of the slippery patches and jutting rocks.
After doing so many treks across the state, I might say that my experience of Torna Fort was not only incredible, but also the most difficult for a hobby trekker.
Trekking Tips for Torna Fort:
If you want to make your trip to Torna Fort much more adventurous, take the route through Raigad. It takes two days and overnight camping from there to reach. But not recommended for beginners.
The best time to camp at Torna is during the winter months. Make sure to carry all your camping and related stuffs with you. Since you will not find anything en route (not even water once you cross the village areas).
Also, you can save some trek time and energy, if you start from Velhe village parking instead of the Velhe Police Outpost.
‘Gadh’, literally means stronghold, have been an integral part of the erstwhile kings and princes in India. It is strategically located across various parts of the country. The forts were the arsenal of rulers to deploy the forces when under attack. Maharashtra has over 300 such forts that played an important role during Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s reign. However, one fort holds a special place in the history of Maratha Empire owing to its architectural genius and the folklore attached to it. If your travelling activity accounts for history and architect, then Pratapgadh Fort is your destination. Here’s the account to the valour of Pratapgadh Fort- a testimony to genius, marvel and victory.
Formation Story of the Pratapgadh Fort
Unlike other forts of Maharashtra that were majorly captured, Pratapgadh Fort was constructed by Shivaji Maharaj. It was built under the architectural guidance of Moropant Trimbak Pingle. The fort consists of 4 watchtowers in four directions, armoury, king’s quarters, army quarter, around 450 steps connecting it all. It was all constructed within a span of 2 years. Just imagine!! Around 500 years ago, without the use of heavy machinery and equipment, in a hostile environment, clandestinely stands a stronghold of Maratha bastion.
The intriguing part of the construction was that the main door of the gate is not visible from outside. As seen in the photos, an outside glance makes it look like an impregnable wall. But actually, the main gate is hidden behind the rocks, with a series of the curved staircase leading to the door. The curved staircase was an example of an ingenious construction. It protected the fort gate from being taken down by the enemy forces.
On the way up to the top, one can witness the weapons and armoury used at the time. Literally and figuratively, each of the weapons weighs about 20-30 kgs. Also, it is said that an average person then would practice with them for 6-8 hours a day. Clearly shows the strength in the limbs of our ancestors. The highest point of the fort stands on the edge of the 3000 feet high cliff, known as Punishment Point. The place was used to execute the criminals by throwing them down the cliff. A spine-chilling place even now as the cool breeze equivalent to that of an air conditioner with temperature dropped to the lowest. And the view is worth dying for!
Significance of the name given- Pratapgadh
Among all the tales, the fort is well known for one which derived its name. ‘Pratap’ means victory, and the name of the fort is dedicated to the victory of Chhatrapati over the Mughal General Afzal Khan.
Chhatrapati Shivaji’s contemporary ruler was the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. He placed a handsome bounty on Shivaji Maharaj’s head. Afzal Khan was the Mughal General in the Deccan region and he accepted the challenge to defeat Shivaji Maharaj. Setting out a message of peace proposition to Chhatrapati at Pratapgadh, Afzal Khan had planned to kill Shivaji during the meet. Afzal Khan, as it is said, was a monster among men, standing at 7 feet tall and was strong enough to flip a raging bull without breaking a sweat.
Shivaji Maharaj, on receiving the invitation of the peace proposition, went ahead to meet Afzal Khan with 2 of his trusted generals. As they met, Afzal Khan tried to kill Shivaji Maharaj by squeezing his neck. However, Shivaji Maharaj, having anticipated such move, tore open Afzal Khan’s belly using the tiger claws he was wearing on his hands. Withering in pain, Afzal Khan retreated through the tent where one of Shivaji’s bodyguards decapitated him. The trumpet of victory was blown from the fort and hence the fort came to be known as Pratapgadh Fort.
Pratapgadh Fort is just 15 km from the famous hill station of Mahabaleshwar. Also look for other destinations to visit near Pune and Mumbai. Pratapgadh Fort stands tall reminiscing the valiant tales of the glorified Maratha history.
Monsoon is a great time to pack up your bags and do the outbound to observe nature at its raw best. Touring in a country like India, which is rich in its natural heritage. Here is the list of places you can visit to look for the pleasure of monsoon in India. These places are best to visit in India during July-September.
List of 20 most popular places one can visit during monsoon.
Gujarat’s solitary hill station is a popular tourist spot as soon as the rains begin. With the tourism department organizing the monsoon festival every year. It is a perfect place for a weekend getaway. Relax at the lakeside with corn on the cob. Paddle boat with friends in the lake. Witness the magnanimity of Gira Waterfalls. Get awed by the variety of flora at Waghai Botanical gardens and get familiar with the Warli paintings and art, as you breathe in a bit of Gujarat.
This one needs no introduction, as it stands out to be every Mumbaikar’s and Punekar’s favourite weekend destination. Located exactly at the midpoint of two cities, the journey is as pleasant as the destination. Mumbai-Pune express highway offers a completely different sight in the monsoons, with waterfalls mushrooming all along the road. Enjoy the long drives with near and dear ones while having a bite at the famous Chikki and jelly chocolates.
India’s smallest hill station offers you the biggest of surprises in the monsoons. As the entire area gets covered with a blanket of greens, the viewpoints present a soothing view to sore eyes. The entire hill station is a no-vehicle zone. The only way to explore is by foot or horseback, which is an excitement in itself. Witness the sunrise and sunset behind the hills in the company of macaques while sipping a cup of tea among the clouds.
For those looking for a peaceful weekend, India’s first planned hill station is where you need to head to. On the banks of an artificial lake, stands a peaceful town, away from the hustle and monotony, with lovely views all around. There are lots of waterfalls on the way to the city and the valleys offer breathtaking views. In short, an ideal place to visit for spending a lazy weekend. Counting in the list of places to visit near Mumbai and Pune during monsoon.
For all those who think Goa is a beach destination, they must visit Goa during monsoon to see its other side. Charao Island, a little-known place just 30 mins from Panaji is the place to be in Goa when it rains. For hikers and nature lovers, Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is equivalent to a utopian society. But the cherry on the cake is the magnificent Dudhsagar Falls which offers a completely mesmerizing view of the monsoon. Explore an unknown side of Goa at a dirt cheap rate while devouring the Goan Fish Curry and nip of Fenny.
An absolute gem of a place in the heart of the Western Ghats. The serpentine roads lead you up to the peak which offers a breathtaking view of the forests. The ruins of Kaveladurg fort are perfect for a day out. Trek across the paddy fields enjoying the nature at its very best and hike all the way to the endpoint to witness a spectacular sight on three sides.
A trekker’s paradise and a bike rider’s holy grail, Kudremukh National Park is yet another hidden gem of Karnataka. It springs to life during monsoon. If green pastures, misty backdrops & cool breeze are your things, Kudremukh should be on your bucket list. These places are best to visit in August in India.
For those who feel that Goa is too mainstream, Gokarna is where you must head to. A few hours ride from Goa, Gokarna is an amalgamation of beaches and mountains. It has the lesser hustle and is more peaceful than any of the beaches in Goa. The beaches are secluded, peaceful and offer a beautiful view of the sun setting into the Arabian Sea. Relax on the shacks of the beachside cafes with chilled beer and Chicken Ghee Roast. Its the speciality of the region, while enjoying the stunning view around.
The gorgeous tea estates will escort you all through curvy roads of this tiny hill station hidden in the Western Ghats. More reasons to visit Munnar in August of 2018 is the blooming of Neelakurunji, a rare blue flower that blooms once in 12 years, covering the region in a blanket of blue. Witness the raw beauty of nature at Eravikulam National Park. The enigma of nature in Neelakurunji Flowers, freshness of the tea gardens and the aura of the indigenous Nilgiri Tahr at Munnar this August.
Pristine and surreal backwaters surrounded by the beautiful paddy fields and coconut plantations on either side await you as you set your foot aboard the houseboats and sail lazily into them. August marks the harvesting festival, Onam, in Kerala and is celebrated with great pomp and gaiety. The snake boat races are the main attraction of Onam and it is one experience to witness them. 100-120 men row the boats in an absolute synchronization while singing “Kuttanadan Punjayile” in the spirits as high as the coconut trees surrounding the area. Such places are must visit in August in India with family.
Adorning the northern hills of Kerala is the beautiful district of Wayanad. This area is famous for its large amount of camping and trekking trails, breathtaking waterfalls, caves, bird watching sites, flora, fauna and an overall plethora of magnificent sights. At Neelimala’s summit, you can get a view of the Meenmutty Falls, the largest of its kind in Wayanad. Get delighted by the range of exotic products including spices, coffee, tea, bamboo products, honey and herbal plants available here. Release your tensions with the Ayurvedic massage and get refreshed by the aura of the place.
Far off the mainland, there are a group of 400 little islands collectively known as the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The volcanic islands are home to the best beaches in India. A rich underwater diversity makes it a top spot for scuba diving and snorkelling. Relive the moments of Indian Freedom Struggle at Cellular Jail. Witness the architectural genius at Ross Island. Get awed by the beauty of Radhanagar beach. Swim with fishes at North Bay Island and get lost in the mystical Chidiya Tapu beach while witnessing the unaltered beauty of nature.
‘It always rains in Meghalaya! That’s why it’s so beautiful!’ Meghalaya is gaining a reputation as a natural adventure playground, a prime destination for trekking, caving and canyoning and tribal encounters. Clouds and forests all around, Meghalaya has the best of the natural heritage in India. Be it the natural root bridges at Khasi hills or the clandestine caves at Jaintia. The magnanimous Nohkalikai waterfalls, these all are unique in their own ways. Experience the spectacle of rains and virgin beauty of the wettest place on earth like never before.
Valley of Flowers
Perched at an altitude of 14000 feet above sea level, with the verdant beauty of the snow-capped Himalayas in the backdrop, the green meadows and cotton-like clouds blend in to make a dreamlike valley of flowers trek. Known as the most beautiful trek in the world with the blue Primula, Valley of Flowers Uttarakhand is a must do the trek for nature lovers. Blessed with exotic flowers, faunas and magnificent views this trek will take you to the world of snow clad mountains and high cliffs. Listen to the sound of birds chirping and the musical sound of the stream during the trek. The soothing breeze and the enchanting beauty lure away nature and the photography lovers.
It is every adventure enthusiast’s dream destination, Rishikesh offers you a plethora of options to try to satiate the adrenaline appetite. The gushing waters of Alaknanda create roaring rapids as you paddle your raft through them without ending up in the water. Rishikesh also hosts India’s highest bungee jump platform, paragliding, hang-gliding, kayaking and bridge slithering among various activities one can choose from. Camp by the riverside with barbeque and music for a perfect ending to a wonderful adventure. Also, soothe with some peace through yogic training.
Five days of Hampta Pass & Chandratal Lake trekking will enable you to spend ample time amidst the flabbergasting serenity mixed with fun and excitement. The Chandratal Lake Trek is a treasure trove for the ardent as well as amateur trekkers and holds the charm and allurement like any other treks in the Himalayas. The scenic landscape exposes trails that meander through alpine forests, huge rock formations, and remarkably rich vegetation. Chandratal Lake trekking experience introduces you to the captivating beauty of the Himalayan meadows, flora and fauna of the Lahaul and Spiti valley. It also gets you close to the life and spirit amidst the lofty peaks. With easy gradients, climbs and descends, this trek will definitely satiate all your quench for trekking in the Indian Himalayas. It is the best place to visit in August in Himachal.
The forts have been strongholds of the Maratha rulers since the reigns of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Tactically built over hilltop overseeing the valleys, these forts provide a gem of a sight after the rains turn everything green. Lohgadh, Raigadh & Sinhagadh forts are the most famous of the forts, offering a stunning view alongside a brilliant architecture. Visapur fort, Harihar fort and Torna fort are a few other in this long list of breathtaking beauty and architectural marvel. Be amazed by the rich history and the magnificent view of the Maratha bastions this monsoon in Maharashtra.
‘Bonjour’ is what you’ll say as you step foot on the erstwhile French Colony in India. The hotels, restaurants and ‘lifestyle’ shops sell a seductive vision of the French-subcontinental aesthetic, enhanced by Gallic creative types and Indian artists and designers. The internationally famous Sri Aurobindo Ashram and its offshoot just north of town, Auroville, draw large numbers of spiritually minded visitors. Pondicherry’s vibe: less faded colonial-era villa, more bohemian-chic, New Age–meets–Old World hang-out on the international travel trail. The beaches are just as peaceful as the city, making it a must visit place for seeking inner peace.
Rajasthan’s best-kept secret, shining on the shores of the shimmering Lake Pichola and surrounded by the brilliant Aravali ranges, Udaipur has a romance of setting unmatched in all India. The grandiloquent palaces, havelis & the narrow streets add a human touch to the city’s natural charms. For a tourist, the tranquillity of boat ride on the lake, colourful bazaars, lively arts and the tempting shops along the lovely countryside that can be explored and enjoyed to the fullest. Make it more enriching while feasting on some of the most delicious street food the city has to offer.
Situated on a ridge, above a dense alpine forest, a small village in the Uttarakhand offers lovely panoramic views of the snow clad mountain peaks, fresh air & relaxed atmosphere. Kausani is a backpacker’s happy place and an author’s dreamland, offering exquisite views of the massive Nanda Devi and Panchachuli Peaks. The glory of the views reaches its pinnacle at dawn and dusk. Sun-rays turn the peaks into golden during sunrise and crimson at sunset, making a spectacle to observe and relieved in the memory box.
Dear couples, this might also solve your problem. These are the best honeymoon destinations in India during monsoon. Breeze with your partner in the ‘awesome mausam’.
There you have the best 20 places to visit this monsoon, so pack up your bags, pick up a place or two and blend in the surroundings of the mesmerizing places of our Incredible India. India is happening during New Year’s too. So also have a look at New Year celebrating destinations of India.