A Trip to Torangarh (Torna Fort)!

Posted: September 20, 2011 by Shishir Gupta in Adventure, India, Just For Fun
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Torna Fort

I publish my trip diaries over my blog here, so that years later when I read it, I would be able to remember and cherish the moments of the trip. But this trip has been somewhat different, as even if I do not write about it here, I will surely remember it for a long time to come.

Again another Sunday, another fort called in for a yet another trek with my friends. As usual this trip too had to be covered over the previous weekend, but again due to various circumstances it had to get postponed for this Sunday (18-Sept-2011). This time we went to Torangarh (Torna Fort) which is one of the first of Shivaji’s fort, and definitely is known for its tough climb. I and four other friends (Vishal, Achyut, Firoz, and Imran- Firoz’s brother) went for the trip. I and Vishal have made it for almost every trip, and Achyut too has become a regular in the group now.

Also, I don’t know why 2-3 days before we started for the trip, I was having an intuition that something bad was to happen over the trip. I really don’t know what exactly it was but it kept cautioning me, and asking me to skip this trip. But I am somewhat happy that I did go for this as it was definitely a life time experience.

Torna Fort in Clouds

THE PLANNING BEHIND THE TRIP
After the bizarre planning that went behind our Korigad trip, this planning was way better. I Vishal had been planning for the trip, but we were not really sure of the destination trip. It is at that time, when I saw a few images on my friends Facebook profile when he visited Torna fort recently. The images made me consider the place as an option, and I suggested it to Vishal, who readily agreed and so the place was fixed. But he did mention it to me that the climb to the top is one of the toughest around Pune. After circulating the email about the trip, Achyut and Firoz to confirmed for the trip. Apart from the two there were others like Eshanku, Umesh, Sandip, Aman, Raman, and Bhadre who all enthusiastically agreed and wanted to join for the trip. I was happy the count for the trip had for the first time touched to 10 people, who at that time were surely going to come along. But as the date neared we as usual had a few dropouts due to prior commitments and we had to postpone the trip. Again at the start of the next trip, I circulated the same email all over again. Again this time we almost had everyone agreeing for the trip, but it is at that time Vishal sent a caution email (with text in red) to all. The email read as follows:

“Before you make your mind to Torna, let me threaten you all. The fort is very well known for its toughness. It is one of the toughest and high-risk forts for trekking around Pune. Many people find this fort very difficult for trekking in summer and we’re going in these rainy days. So the recent rainfall will intensify the difficulty of your trekking.
The purpose of above threatening is to warn the faint-hearted people of our group.    (The adjective faint-hearted should not be taken personally. I am not referring to any individual………… but to all of us :D) Therefore the faint-hearted people must not come to this trip.”

This email actually worked and we had a few dropouts initially. I was a little unhappy with that at the time, but Vishal did tell me about the details of the trek. After that discussion I made up my mind that at no point of time, I am going to convince any tentative people to join. By the end, we were 6 of us who finally agreed to go ahead (Vishal, Firoz, Aman, Eshanku, Achyut, and Me). Raman had fallen ill, so he was not sure and said that if he does recover he would surely join. Bhadre too agreed, but he said that it would be difficult for him to climb as he has somewhat injured his leg. At that point of time I asked to drop the idea of coming, as there is no point in aggravating your injury. The rest I believe got scared by the email and backed out of the trip. 6 was always a good number, but I and Vishal were somewhat skeptical about Eshanku joining the trip, as we felt his built would not really allow him complete the trek successfully and then his probably if that does happen, the others would also lose their determination to complete the trek. So by a heavy heart I had to drop the idea of taking Eshanku along with us.

The Group (Achyut, Firoz, Imran, Vishal, and Me)

The night before the trip, Aman too had to drop out as he had to urgently go to Mumbai for some work, which left us again to the count of 4. But finally, we decided to go ahead as we did not want another trip to get cancelled due to the count falling. The plan was set to meet at Swargate around 6.30 and then head towards the fort. Also this time we decided that we all would take our bikes, avoiding pillion riders.

THE START
The trip started on a good note. Firoz got his brother Imran along with him and the count increased to 5. Though we started about 20-25 minutes late than the scheduled time, but considering that everything else was going fine, the delay did not worry us much. Imran decided to come on my bike as my pillion rider. After about a drive of about 35-40 minutes we stopped at a McDonald’s outlet on the Mumbai-Bangalore highway. Another group of bike riders had stopped there. All of them had very costly super bikes, and looking at them somewhat charged us as well. Though we did end up spending (wasting) almost an hour. In the meanwhile, charged by seeing that bikers groups we also discussed the possibility of starting our very own bikers group (maybe consisting of only our team members). A team that would undertake such trips at least once a month, I knew that straight away I could see 4 enthusiastic members for the group. And after some breakfast and a small photo session we started our journey ahead. We had barely moved for 10-15 minutes, we again took a break for tea. After a hot cup of steaming tea we headed towards the fort. After we left the highway, the road to the fort (almost 30 odd kilometers) was not in a very good condition, so we drove slowly through. The road wasn’t very good, but the scenery on both the sides was immaculate. We all enjoyed the drive and reached the foothills of the fort by 9.45 AM.

The Bikers Group

THE CLIMB 
Almost immediately after parking our bikes we decided to ascend to the top without wasting any time. The walk initially was good, a little slippery but as we walked through beautiful farms, it was exciting. We could see the fort on top of the other hill, and the walk up to the top was around 5-6 kilometers. As we started moving ahead, the climb got a little steeper and difficult. Luckily there was not much rain till then, so the path was not very slippery, and was manageable if we were careful. While moving ahead, we moved ahead and met a kid called Ramesh. He was a local person and generally guided travellers like us to the top of the fort. He said he would escort us to the top, and informed that he generally guides trekkers like us and also carries a bottle of buttermilk along (he does not charge anything for the guidance, only did for the buttermilk on per glass basis). We were joyed and happily took him along as we all had forgotten to carry any water or any other drink along with us. And even with less than a kilometer we had started feeling the need of water so he along with us was like a god sent. We started climbing up the top, but the climb was getting tougher and tougher with every 10 minutes. Since the climb was steep, I discussed with Vishal that dropping Eshanku was a good idea, though had Umesh and others come it would have been great. Vishal who probably had knowledge of the area said that this was just the beginning. Whenever I felt that this patch was a little difficult, another ever more difficult patch would follow. The path enroute to the top was very narrow suitable for a single person, and the dangerous level increased since this track was just a few centimeters away from the edge of the cliff. We all held our nerves and moved ahead, but the due to the excitement none of us were actually afraid of the situation. In fact we kept on clicking photographs of each other and the nature around. Suddenly we reached the top of the hill (the fort was on the hill on the other end). The view was breathtaking from there, with a narrow track to the fort and cliff on both sides of the track. But the view on both sides was amazing, and we could not stop ourselves from clicking photographs. After some time we started to move ahead and kept on jokingly motivate each other as the route got tougher and tougher. I suddenly realized that in my previous post about Korigad, I had mentioned that climb as very tough, but seeing the situation as till then, if the climb of Korigad fort was tougher this climb was way-way tougher, and I thought about this not realizing that even tougher times were yet to come (though to give my Korigad post a little justification all I can say is that the climb up to that fort was not very tough, however the heavy rains did make it very tough and risky).

The route up to the fort

After sometime we reached a point which I can call the foothills of the fort. I could see the fort at some height, but then the climb from here was almost 80-85 degree climb, and I joked that the trek was suddenly changing into rock climbing now. That sight did scare me a bit as with rains this path had got a little slippery and it had got dicey and risky. But the feeling having reached so close to the fort somewhat blooded some new freshness into all of us and we moved ahead. I can never forget that climb in my life, it was really enthralling. Though to be honest, it was not very tough especially since I know rock climbing, but it was the weather that made it very tough and risky. But that atmosphere had pumped too much of adrenaline into us that nothing could deter us from climbing. In fact we had situations where we were almost hanging on the rocks still I and Vishal were trying to capture everyone’s photographs. Then there was a patch where had to walk around a little, and not climb. That gave us a relief for some time and also in between we managed to spot a waterfall, where we enjoyed for some time and again clicked pictures (some videos too) of each other.

The steep climb

Once we left the fall, we again faced a steep (around 80 degree) climb. But that led us to the top of the fort (within the walls of the fort). The experience up till then was superb and was worth taking the risk. We all had the buttermilk that was given to us by Ramesh and that energized us and after that we let him go back. By that time I had realized that dropping all the others was a great idea, and why Vishal was insisting on not to take friends like Bhadre, Umesh and Eshanku along. Having reached the top was an achievement in itself. Maybe Aman and Raman missed this trip big time as I probably feel that they surely could have accompanied us to the top. Though I am not really sure about the others, as I do feel that it would have been difficult for them to climb, and even one person at that time could de-motivate everyone else. We reached the top around 12, and it took us more than 2 hours of walk to reach the top. The weather on the top was not very good, there were dense clouds and visibility was very low. However after roaming atop for about half an hour, having some fun, and clicking some pictures we started the descend towards our bikes.

On top of the Fort

While coming down we realized that due to the slight drizzle in between, the track had become even more slippery. And once again we faced to steep climb (now turned into steep falls). It is that time I realized that climbing up took a little toll on our knees and legs, but descending downhill would very difficult and dangerous. On most of the occasions we had to sit down (in fact almost lie down) with are backs touching the ground and then try and push our body down. This was the toughest part if the trip I suppose, and as we got used to it, we increased our speeds and then started coming down quickly. While coming down Firoz spotted a crab (it was huge in size) and indicated to Vishal. Vishal’s eyes lit up seeing that and he instantly leaped towards the crab and caught it, and he knew he had his dinner well earned. 

Vishal with the crab

It took us a little time to descend as the track down had become slippery, and we could not really keep our foot steady on ground, and almost everybody was slipping. When we were about to reach the starting point we realized that we had to cross a stream. Vishal entered the stream and we all followed him. The water gushing into our shoes was really soothing, as our legs were very tired, and I almost had blisters in the toes (as while climbing and descending to maintain steadiness all the body weight finally comes on the front toes). After spending some 5-10 minutes and clicking pictures we moved ahead towards our bikes. It was about to touch 3.30 and it had almost taken us 3 hours to touch back from the top of the fort (in fact Vishal had estimated it to be around 1 and a half hour). We all were very hungry and tired, and more than anything else our legs had almost given up. At that point of time I rued the fact that we came on bikes, and that too all alone. This meant that all of us had to drive back and none of us would get the respite of taking some rest.

While entering the Torna Fort

We reached near are bikes and then straight away headed towards a restaurant to have some food. We sat down and, to be honest that moment felt like heaven to me, as I had not sat down anywhere since the start of the trek. The food was simply amazing (to be honest at the moment anything served to us would have been great, but the quality was good). We ate stomachs full and around 4 o clock we got up to head back home. We all started are journey back on bikes and as earlier Imran was once again my pillion. The 30 kilometers drive to touch the highway was tough as the roads were not very good, and also our legs had literally given up. But somehow we managed to touch the highway in about 40 minutes.

The drive on the highway was smooth and very good, though none of us were speeding, actually our legs did not allow us to exceed the speed of 50 (I don’t remember the last time I actually drove that slow on a highway), but to be honest that speed too looked pretty good at that moment. At around 5 o clock we stopped for a break and had a cup of tea. The tea somewhat managed to get some life back into our bodies. All of us were talking about how we are going rest once we reach back home and our plans for the next day. We all were talking about a possible unplanned leave from office, and if I remember I was the only one who was very confident of not applying for one. In the meanwhile we also discussed the plan to visit as many forts possible around Pune before the next monsoon. Though this looked a little difficult, but surely was very much possible especially if I, Vishal, and Achyut were available for every future trip plan.

After a small but refreshing break, we started our way back home. This time Imran decided to accompany Firoz, as that would enable them to directly head back home and no more stoppage.

THE INEVITABLE ACCIDENT
The day was great so far, but just then my initial intuition of something bad going to happen on the trip made way. I was driving constantly on the left-center of the road and a speed of around 50, a scooter driver who was standing in between the center of the road turned left (my side). To avoid him I applied brakes, but I guess since my legs were as good as dead the brake was ineffective, so I had to apply my hand (disc-brakes) brake and the bike skit and hit the scooter, and I fell on the middle of the road. As I feel down the first thought that came to my mind was who was behind me, and as I realized that Achyut was behind (I was constantly monitoring through the rear mirror so that everyone was together) and bike came and fell over me and hit my chest. It almost pinched me hard, and for a few seconds I almost lost consciousness. But at that moment I felt a little happy now that since it has been a few seconds no big vehicle would come near me a very serious injury had been avoided. I suddenly saw Achyut and Vishal picking up the bike the bike from over me, and then picking me up. But that time Firoz and Imran had helped pick me up and that is the time I realized that the bike that skit and fell over me was none other than Achyut’s. When he saw me falling he tried to help me by moving the other side and while applying the brakes his bike too skit and fell over me. I had a few bruises on my knee and my elbow, but I did look a little uncomfortable. Achyut to had a few bruises over his knee and shin, and at that time we realized that a major mishap had been avoided. After a small break and a little quarrel with the people there we headed back home. Despite the injury I once again the group as I knew that driving at a constant and my comfortable speed is the best bet I had.

The group - I like this pic even more now, since had we been not so lucky in the accident, a few faces could have gone missing from this for ever!

THE LAST LEG OF THE JOURNEY
As I moved ahead, the pain in the chest and elbow started to increase and I knew that I was in a tough situation as I had to cover around 18 kilometers more to reach back home. By the time I entered the city (about 11-12 kilometers to home) my hands had started trembling, and I had started to feel the pinch. But somehow I managed to reach home safely (no more mishap). Once I entered home, I showed my mother the bruise on the elbow. There were no lights in the house at that time and so she asked me to the injury with hot water. It is when the lights came on I realized the swelling on my elbow and chest. My mother got scared and took me to the hospital for an X-ray, which finally showed that I had two fractures in my elbow and three in my ribs. And now I ended up the only one to go on an unplanned leave the next day, unfortunately and unintended though.

And thus a very enjoyable day had ended on a miserable note. Though I believe this trek and the accident both will be engraved in the minds of my friends and mine for a long time to come.
 

Inside the fort

A FEW POINTS FROM THE TRIP
Similar to my last post of an adventurous trip, I would highlight a few points from the trip:

  • I have realized that it is good to have all friends come for the trip but sometimes not having the wrong person at the right trip is also good. And I did learn that I can manage people well as I did manage to get some friends off board as they could have unknowingly spoilt the mood of the rest of the group had they backed off half way during the trek.
  • I would remember the trekking experience all my life, as climbing steep heights (almost cliffs) was a completely new experience.
  • I learnt that traveling on bikes is great fun, but when one has to go for such tiring trips it is advisable to take a four wheeler or a cab. Or at least have a pillion rider, with whom you can share half the burden of the journey. As I do believe had I been not that tired I could have managed to avoid the accident.
  • When Achyut met me the other day, he felt guilty that had he been able to avoid his part of the accident, more than half of my injuries could have been saved. To be honest I was happy that some bike was behind me and no heavy vehicle was as that could have caused major injuries if not any extreme condition. Also his bike somewhat shielded me for any other mishap. Also I can understand what he must have been feeling. Even I was sad that he fell trying to save me. Had he got a major injury, I would have really felt guilty too.
  • I was a little sad that Aman did not make it to the trip, as he would have definitely enjoyed the experience. I later realized that had he made it he would have been my pillion and this accident would have been much more dangerous for him, than it was for me.  
  • I believe we must sometimes do need to pay heed to our intuitions, they can definitely give a good hint, if not completely be true.
  • Also our plans of a bikers group and of the fort trekking group have been postponed for a long time seeing this mishap. As seeing what happened this time I am not really sure, how often and quickly we will get back into action.

    That's me after the trip

That’s it from me know, hope to write on some more forthcoming trips very soon, though seeing my condition I don’t see such a trip in very near future but I hope that whenever it does happen it will be a great one and a safer one.

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Comments
  1. ramansggs says:

    Nice trip yarr,,
    I missed it 😦

  2. Shishir Gupta says:

    Seriously Raman, you should have come. But not a problem maybe the in the next trip.

    -S

  3. […] A Trip to Torangarh (Torna Fort)! […]

  4. Vishal says:

    Since almost one month i have been at home doing nothing. Missing our trips and mail threads about the trips, which were so regular than the trips 🙂 That’s why went through our last trip experience which was quite amazing except the accident you and Achyut met with while returning 😦

    Anyways I have some good plans for our next trips in my mind. We’ll discuss them as soon as I resume to office. It’s been a long time…

  5. Shishir Gupta says:

    Yes, sure even I am missing all the trips. It took a lot of time for us to recover mentally than physically.

    Even I have been wanting to go for a trip for a long time now, you come back “completely fit” then we will surely plan out something.

    -S

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