Monday, July 23, 2007

Trek to Peb Fort (2200ft)

The Peb fort can be climbed from Neral station, a distance of six miles. The fort itself is not very big or famous and is also named as ‘VikatGad’. At the foot of the hill is a goddess called Pebi, who appears from her name to be the deity of the fort. Half way up the hill is a god called Mhasoba and about a quarter of a mile beyond are two caves, and a rock-cut cistern.

I got to know about this trek from a topic posted by Bharat Sonar (Who was also one of the four Trek Leaders amongst Ganesh, Karen and Pooja) on the Orkut Community, "Sahyadri".

We were supposed to meet at 8 A.m. at Kalyan Station to board a train to Neral, which is the closest railway station to Peb. We took the 8:40 A.M train to Khopoli and believe me it was a hell of a job to get into the overcrowded train as Sunday is a day where most of the picnickers head for Matheran, the famous hill station nearest to Mumbai. There was a group of picnickers who were singing all sorts of old Marathi songs to the accompaniment of a bongo. It looked right out of a picture book. The rest were playing antakshari.

Finally we reached our destination. After getting down at the Neral Station I realised that I was the only person from our group to have got into the 2nd class compartment while others had got into the 1st class compartment and had a luxurious journey.

Before starting off with our journey, we took a halt at a small hotel near Neral station where We had our breakfast (Misal Pav and tea) and got ready to leave for the fort. It took some 20 minutes of traveling through small winding country roads to reach the village at the base of the hill. It was a small village, with its tiny half naked children playing and climbing on trees.

The initial part of the path passed through village fields and surrounding shrubs. Walking parallel to a small flowing water stream, we entered some dry brush at the base of the hill. After an hour or so the vegetation changed and became more and more denser and wilder.

We passed by a cave of Swami Samarth and a Ganapti temple before climbing a ladder which was a very unusual thing I had ever done in any of my treks.

After sacrificing away tones of calories with buckets of perspiration, A two-two and a half hour climb brought us to the small temple of Lord Mhasoba.

There was a water tank near the temple which had a small stream of flowing water as the water source someone had very artistically placed a banana leaf which narrowed down the water flow and we filled our water bottles there. We decided to halt and have our lunch there. Every one shared their food and after a small break we decided to move to the pinnacle of the fort.

We had to harldy climb for 10 minutes to reach the pinnacle where one can find the "Dattatreya Padukas" (Foot imprints of Lord Dattatreya).

There was a sheer drop to the lowlands on both the sides of the Pinnacle. We had a full fledged Photo session I decided to take some rest. I would have liked to stay there for a day or so but we had to hurry as we had to reach Neral before the last train to Mumbai left Neral at 10:57 P.M.

We again marched towards the desired destination at about 4:30 P.M. and reached a certain part on the plain which was full of cool breeze enough for relaxing. The air was filled with fresh green grass and fresh green leaves smell (one can never get to experience in the city life). Yes it’s true I could even feel the colour of the smell green and fresh indeed. I felt fresh like I never felt before. Ganesh took us to a lesser known place known as "Kotwal Buruj" a place which was used as a watchtower to keep an eye over the approaching armies of the enemy. The view of the valley down from that point was simply amazing.

We reached Neral at around 7:45 P.M. and took the 7:56 P.M. Semi Fast train to Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus. I was lucky enough to get a seat as a couple who had to get down at Ambernath decided to go near the door after Badlapur as the train was heavily crowded. I was able to catch a small nap in the Train till Dadar and then I took the Virar local to Vasai.

The Peb fort, as of the forts in Maharashtra exists in pieces, which one really has to dig hard for. There is nothing on the fort, which can strongly confirm its one time existence. The real fun is not visiting a fort which is untouched, like those many in Jaipur. The non-existence of these forts confirms the thrilling history of Maharashtra, full of wars and fights fought against Mughals, Nizams and even British governance. The other fact not to be overlooked upon is the way they were built. We find it tough to walk through bare hands. Think of the times, when Maratha Sardars used to climb it up with their horses and kilos of weight of the swords in the hands. Cool, isn't it?

To enjoy the pictorial journey please visit my online album on :

Cheers !

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