Vasota Fort Trek (वासोटा किल्ला) May 2013

Vasota Fort as seen from Koyana Dam (Shivsagar Lake)
Vasota Fort as seen from Koyana Dam (Shivsagar Lake)

Vasota fort is also called as Vyaghragad, it’s located in Satara District. It is said that this fort was built by Kolhapur Shilahara Raja Bhoja II (1178–1193). It was captured by Shivaji Maharaj in 1660.

There are very few historic events where this fort is mentioned. British officers who helped Siddi Johar during Panhala war were held as prisoners on Vasota Fort and when Shahu Maharaj was release by auranjzeb there was division in Maratha Empire and at Vasota fort one of the battles between two sides was fought.

There are multiple ways to reach Vasota, We followed below Path:

Pune->Satara->Tapola->Bamnoli (You need to take permission from Forest Dept. here)->Vasota Base ( Again Forest Dept office)->Vasota Fort.

(You don’t need to go to Tapola, you can directly go to Bamnoli from Satara as well, but go to Tapola if you have some extra time and if you would love boating)

We started on Friday midnight and reached Tapola around 5 AM. It was pleasing to see sunrise in the Hills than to see sunrise in the buildings.

On the way to Vasota Fort

One cannot start Vasota Fort Trek without permission from Forest Department so trek cannot be started before 8 AM. Forest Department office is situated in Bamnoli. We started from Tapola to Bamnoli around 8 AM.

On the way to Vasota Fort

On the way to Vasota Fort

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At Bamnoli, Forest Department will ask you for Identifications documents like PAN Card, DL etc. It’s hard to believe but Forest Department charges 50/- per Camera. They could come and check your bags to make sure you are not carrying any alcohol or any other undesirable item. This Fort being in Koyna wildlife sanctuary, one should not do anything that could damage its natural environment, should not make any noise as it might disturb (and even attract 😉 ) wild animals.

Bamnoli

After verification from Forest Department personals, our boat started to move towards Vasota fort base. Even though it was May, sky was overshadow with clouds and that made our journey very pleasant. It’s around 15 KMs from Bamnoli to Vasota base. Our boat was moving very slowly so it took us around 1.5 hours to reach the base.

Once we got down the boat, we followed the river trail for a while then there was a path marked by stones which lead us to another Forest Department Office. We were pleased to see lots of Jambhul trees on the way. After lots of years I was eating Jambhul, but Jambhul were not totally ripe for eating and were small in size so we did not eat much.

There is a marked path from Forest Department office to Vasota Fort; it’s from right side of the office. There was one old woman selling tak (buttermilk), Villagers will come to sell few things but it’s not guaranteed that you will find them there. Real trek starts from here, along the way you could see the boards explaining which animals can be found in the Konya Wildlife Sanctuary and some more information about them, List of animals found around this area includes Wild Dogs, Bears, Leopards and even Tigers. Even though there is dense forest, Vasota Trek is not confusing because Path is clearly marked by stones and there is clear trail.

Starting patch is almost flat; there is a Hanuman Temple after around 500 meters. There is a board indicating direction to Vasota Fort. Dense forest starts from Here.On the way to Vasota Fort

I could find one of the rare Sarda there.

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Few pictures of Trail:

Fallen tree On the way to Vasota Fort
Fallen tree On the way to Vasota Fort
Trail through dense forest
Trail through dense forest
Trail through dense forest
Trail through dense forest

Due to overshadowed sky, there wasn’t much heat and even if sun peeks out of clouds for few minutes it wasn’t bothering us because of dense forest. There are few patches having steep climb but I won’t say it was hard to climb but for the first timers it was difficult. There were few first time trekkers with us who started cursing themselves for coming for trekking.  😉

Then we came across a “Y” junction, Right turn from there goes to Nageshwar Temple and Left turn goes to Vasota. We took left turn to Vasota.

Nageshwar Temple Turn
Nageshwar Temple Turn
Board Indication Vasota Fort Direction
Board Indication Vasota Fort Direction

After 10 mins of walk from here and we reached a stone patch which is without much trees and it was very hard to walk it under afternoon sun. We could see the fortification from here.

Once thru this rocky patch you could see old stone stairs to the fort. Main entrance is really in bad shape. Once on the fort, first thing you could see is Hanuman Temple, there is no roof but walls are intact.

Hanuman Temple on Vasota Fort
Hanuman Temple on Vasota Fort

There is Mahadev Temple, one Burunj and a Machi towards the right side of Main entrance.

Mahadev Temple and Machi
Mahadev Temple and Machi

There are two water tanks on the fort but I don’t think that water is drinkable. This is the place where they used to make cement (chuna) of past generation.IMG_6346-1

You could see amazing views from the top. On one side is Koyna Dam

Koyna Dam (Shivsagar Lake) as seen from Vasota Fort
Koyna Dam (Shivsagar Lake) as seen from Vasota Fort

On the other side you could see Nageshvar Temple. There is very deep valley between Nageshwar Temple and Vasota Fort.

Nageshwar Temple from Vasota Fort
Nageshwar Temple from Vasota Fort

On the southeast side you could see very deep valley, Babukada and Old Vasota Fort. We were told that it’s not allowed to go to Old Vasota fort but when I spoke to few locals they said it’s not that its banned to go there but there is no way to reach the Old Vasota due to very dense Jungle.

We started return journey from Fort around 3:30 PM, Return Journey was less difficult and we were at the Vasota base around 5-5:30. We bought nice Tak, Janbhool etc from villagers at the Vasota Fort Base.

Then we started our return journey towards Tapola. It was around 6 PM and sun was about to set. I managed to get on the roof of the Boat and enjoy the evening. This time I was really happy that boat was slow and was wishing if it could be slower so that I could enjoy the evening. I managed to get few beautiful clicks here.

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Once back at Tapola base, we ordered the Tea.

Tea, biscuits, nice breeze, almost sunset, orange clouds and my friends…. these are time like this where I wish if time could stop here.

Near Tapola
Near Tapola

First Time trekkers, who were cursing themselves before, were very pleased for coming to the Trek and were already asking about the next trek.

This fort would definitely look like Heaven In Monsoon but it’s not advisable to go there because of leeches (I heard Forest Dept do not allow this Trek in monsoon but could not confirm it). This area gets huge rainfall so it will be very difficult and risky to do trekking on this fort in Monsoon. There is one more way to come to Vasota fort which is from Chiplun. One could not stay on the fort but he/she could stay in Nageshwar Mandir Caves.

If you need any further information or details feel free to ask.


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The Lost symbol By Dan Brown

The Lost Symbol

The Lost symbol is a perfect example of ‘How to end a really nice plot in worst possible way’. Storyline started very well at one point of time It was difficult to put down the book but towards the end it felt like completely waste of time.

Story starts when Robert Langdon receives a call from his friend Peter Solomon’s assistant regarding a lecture in US Capitol building. Once he is in Capitol building he finds out that invitation is not from his friend but from his friend’s kidnapper. Afterwards Peter’s severed hand is found at the centre of Capitol Rotunda.

It raises more questions than answers when CIA director Inoue Sato appears at the same time in US Capitol building. Peter had given Robert a capstone of Pyramid and Robert feels it’s his responsibility to keep its secret safe but there is a tattooed kidnapper who wants to uncover secret of Masonic Pyramid. There are interesting references to melancholia I and Masonic society and their secrets, in fact whole book revolves around Masonic secrets. Katherine Solomon who is Peter Solomon’s sister, helps Robert in his quest to save his friend & keep Masonic secrets safe but her character is not as effective as Sophia and Vittoria as in his previous novels.

And once story comes closer to its end it becomes very slow and boring.