Some villages still resist the shifting from their original location for centuries.
For this year end, there was a plan for an outing in this forest and visit some forts.
How to reach there
One can take any bus to Chiplun from Pune. Get down at Koyana Nagar. From there one has to take some private vehicle. Go towards Chiplun. Just before Kumbharli pass, there is a village called Helwak. From there take a turn and leave the highway. If we travel for nearly 20-25 kilometers on a narrow road, we reach a village called Patherpunj. This village is about to be shifted. Several other villages in this area have been shifted already.
The other option to explore the area is on foot. We need local guides who can navigate us through the dense forests. Not many people have that knowledge of the terrain now. People do not wander on feet nowadays!
10:30 AM Started from Pune
We started from Swargate bus station in Pune by 10:30 PM bus. The bus was from Pimpri to Chiplun. These buses are supposed to be faster than Swargate to Chiplun buses. By 2:30 AM we were at Koyana Nagar bus stand. During night, the buses do not come inside the bus stand. We need to request the conductor specially to drop us at Koyana Nagar.
For the remaining night, we slept on the bus stand.
In the morning we had breakfast and started for Patherpunj in private jeeps. It took some time to get the jeeps. Here we received the first jolt. On the previous day, it was declared in the local newspaper that there will be census of the animals in the forest hence nobody will be allowed. All senior forest officials were stationed in the same area. The group leader worked on logistics meanwhile.
At last by 11:00 AM, we reached Patherpunj village. On the way, we could see patches of the forest. But nothing significant. The village is very small - about 20-25 huts. We settled in a local school. Immediately we had our packed lunch. The plan was changed slightly due to the restrictions on movement in the forest. First we decided to visit Bhairavgad.
|From Trips - Bhairavgad Koyana Jan 10 Patherpunj village|
|From Trips - Bhairavgad Koyana Jan 10 Forest around Patherpunj village|
|From Trips - Bhairavgad Koyana Jan 10 Jeep ride|
1:00 PM Started for Bhairavgad
After lunch, we decided to start for Bhairavgad with strict instruction to be back in the base camp well before the sunset. The entire path has a track for a four wheeler to travel. The track is mostly plain. Soon we entered thick forest. This cover was right upto the fort. The distance from the base camp to the fort is about 6-7 kilometers. It took us nearly two hours to cover the distance. At the end of the road, there is a Bhairoba temple. The construction is relatively new.
|From Trips - Bhairavgad Koyana Jan 10 Pathway in the jungle|
|From Trips - Bhairavgad Koyana Jan 10 Pathway in the jungle|
|From Trips - Bhairavgad Koyana Jan 10 Forest on the way to Bhairavgad|
Now we can see Bhairavgad in front of us from this temple. One needs to get down slightly and come on a ridge that connects Bhairavgad to the other hills. The path traverses till the entrance of the fort which is on the other side. In between, for a short distance the path is narrow and exposed to a deep valley below. Now we can feel the height of the fort on the side of Kokan.
|From Trips - Bhairavgad Koyana Jan 10 Bhairavgad from the forest|
The entrance of the fort is broken. As soon as we are in the entrance, there is one path which turns right. The ascent is steep and all of that is scree until we reach the top. There is no construction on the top. We spent some time on the top of the fort to enjoy the beauty of the Kokan below. From here we can see the expanse and the thickness of the forest cover.
|From Trips - Bhairavgad Koyana Jan 10 Entrance of Bhairavgad|
There is one water tank on the fort. We had to struggle to some extent to find the way to the tank. It is below some Palm trees. One needs to descend to some extent to reach the tank. Finally the leaders were able to locate the water. It was very much needed at that point. All of us quenched our thirst and were ready for the return journey. The highest point on the fort is 940 meters from the sea level.
From here, we traversed and reached the main entrance of the fort directly avoiding the steep slope with scree. Soon we were back on the ridge connecting the fort with the adjoining hills. It took us more time to come back the entire path as we were observing the plants, trees, and any traces of wild life that we can understand. Just before the dusk, we were back in the base camp.
|From Trips - Bhairavgad Koyana Jan 10|
Many of us headed to the well in the village. There is a small stream nearby. Many of us stood in the stream. Small fishes started sucking the feet. What a nice therapy in the nature!
For the night, there was a plan for full dinner as it was 31-Dec. Kheer was prepared along with rice, sabji, and chapati. As all of us were tired, we ate the dinner quickly and slept by 9:30 PM. We had received instructions from the leader that the next day's trek was nearly 11 kilometers one way. And we must start early in the morning.
It was a full moon day and there was a partial lunar eclipse. But the sky was partially covered with clouds. Hence we missed a good chance for sky watching. The atmosphere was less cold than anticipated. Suddenly in the dead of the night, one of the window panes started swinging on the winds. The noise was dreadful in the otherwise silent night. Nobody bothered to wake up and tie the pane. All of us pretended to sleep. Finally the pane was tied.
5:30 AM Wakeup call
The leader gave all of us a wakeup call. We were to be ready by 7:00 AM and start the trek to Prachitgad. In the morning, one of the villagers came and informed us about a call from the forest officer. The leaders went to pick up the call. After the discussions, the leaders decided to return to Pune as our movement was further restricted by the forest officers. And there was no point in staying there.
|From Trips - Bhairavgad Koyana Jan 10 Hanuman temple in Patherpunj|
10:00 AM Started return journey to Pune
One vehicle arrived at the village. One batch was returned to Koyana Nagar with instruction from the leader to board any bus going to Pune. Fortunately we got one direct bus to Pune as soon as we reached Koyana Nagar. The bus reached Pune by 5:30 PM.
Thus ended one jungle trek halfway in between. Despite obtaining prior permissions from the forest department, some or the other restrictions continued to pop up. It was sad for the participants, and the organizers alike. Things were not in anybody's hand.