Trekking Aug 2008 :: Around Satara Region [Trekking Vairatgad-Nandgiri(Kalyangad)-Pateshwar-Sajjangad]
My First Trek with JanSeva Samiti was on 23rd and 24th Aug 2008. I wasn’t sure if I would be going – since a couple of days before the event I had fever but somehow I got well and joined them for this trip ! This trip had Vairatgad, Nandgiri(Kalyangad) on the 1st day and Thoseghar waterfalls on the 2nd day. It had bundled Thoseghar waterfalls in the event – but due to bad roads we had to cancel the plan to Thoseghar waterfalls and we did Pateshwar and Sajjangad instead on the 2nd day.
Vairatgad Fort (Wai T; 17° 50′ N, 73° 50′ E; RS. Wathar, 21 m;) in Wai 3,939 feet above sea level, lies nine miles north-east of Medha and six miles south-east of Wai, on a spur of the main Sahyadri range which branches nearly due east for about twenty miles from Malcolm Peth by Pancgani. It is a prominent object east of Wai between the Khambatki pass and the gorge by which the Poona-Bangalore road passes into the Satara taluka. The villages of Vyajvadi and Jambulne on the north and Mhasve on the south all touch the fort, the greater part of which is in Vyajvadi. The ascent can be made either from Mhasve village or Bavdhan. The easiest way is to climb by the gorge separating Mhasve and Bavdhan up the west phase of the hill, along the northern ridge of the Jambulne village till the hamlet of Vyajvadi is reached lying close beneath the fort gate. The fort is about 1,000 feet above the plain and the ascent is about two miles. It would be about half a mile less, but much steeper direct from Mhasve. The fort has a vertical scarp of black rock, thirty feet high, surrounded by about seven feet of wall loopholed for musketry. The lower parts of the wall are of large rectangular unmortared stones. The upper part is mortared and of smaller material. There are remains of the head-quarters buildings and some quarters for sepoys, all modern. Inside the fort are five stone ponds none of them more than forty feet in diameter, and outside is one cave pond. The fort is one of those said to have been built by Bhoj Raja, the Kolhapur Silahara chief Bhoja II. (1178-1193) of Panhala, and its name is locally derived from the Vairats, a wild tribe supposed to have dwelt in this neighbourhood, who were subdued by the Pandavas. The fort is partly commanded by the heights of Bavdhan three miles to the west. The view on all sides is very fine and extends on the west to Malcolm Peth.
Banyan Trees – At the foot of Vairatgad within the limits of Mhasve village are two banyan trees, the larger of them shading an area of three quarters of an acre. The space covered by it is a very symmetrical oval. There is no brushwood underneath, nor aught to impede the view save the stems of the shoots from the parent tree which has decayed. [Murray’s Bombay Handbook, 195; the late Mr. S. H. Little, C. S., First Assistant Collector, Satara; Bombay Literary Magazine, 292-293. Lady Falkland writes (Chow, Chow, I, 206-207): The shade was so complete, I could sit in the middle of the day without any covering on my head. The tree was of such a size, that separate picnic parties might take place under it, and not interfere with each other. There were countless avenues, or rather aisles, like those of a church, the pale gray stems being the columns, which, as the sun fell on them, glistened in parts like silver; and here and there were little recesses like chapels, where on the roots from the boughs formed themselves into delicate clustering pillars, up and down which little squirrels were chasing each other, while large monkeys were jumping from bough to bough, the boughs cracking and creaking as if both monkeys and bough would fall on my head.]
(Koreganv T; 18° N, 74° E; RS, Satara Road, 2 m. w;) 3,537 feet above sea level, stands at the end of a spur of the Mahadev range running south-west from the villages of Vikhale and Bhadle, eight miles (13 km) north of Koreganv and about fourteen miles (21 km) north-east of Satara. It is separated from the rest of the spur by a small gorge or Khind and stands on a lower hill than the Candan Vandan range close to its north-west. It forms, therefore, a less conspicuous object from Satara than the Candan Vandan twins, though from the south it comes prominently in view as it forms the southern extremity of the spur dividing the Vangna and Vasna valleys. The hill sides are very steep and rugged and the scarp is very perfect. There is no regular approach and the ascent is made by very tortuous and precipitous footpaths from Dhumalvadi the village immediately at the foot of the hill to the east to the first gate directly above the village and facing north. Though easy at first, the ascent becomes very steep afterwards and much blocked by prickly pear. Halfway up in a ravine is a good spring and pond known as the Kham pond, the water of which is not potable. The pond is hollowed out of the rock in three divisions and the roof is supported by pillars. The water is abundant. [Mr. H. R. Cooke, C. S., found that perhaps the most remarkable feature on the hill was its water-supply. Immediately after entering the lower gate a steep footpath descends within the western was into a hollow at the bottom of the scarp. The hollow is about forty or fifty feet deep. When the bottom is reached the entrance to a huge cavern is seen which can only be reached by stooping. The cavern is full of water but very dark. Outside the gate and to the north there evidently were huge caverns but these have been built up with rough masonry.] The fort has two gateways the one below the other connected by steps. The first gate faces north, the path turning abruptly as it is reached. Within is a hollow used formerly for stores. From the inside facing east is another cave pond called the Gavi also full of good water. The entrance to it is protected by a wall. This cave pond is very difficult of access, the way being thickly blocked with prickly pear. The second gateway of mortared stone leads out into the plateau, which is about two hundred yards high by one hundred broad with many ruined buildings, and four chief ponds inside the second gate. The first pond is about ninety feet by forty in area and twenty feet deep, its sides made of large blocks of masonry. Another smaller one is near the eastern face; a third is in a hollow stopped with an earthen dam; and the fourth is a small one near the south wall. The fort walls are in a state of bad repair. There are no buildings inside the fort except the temple of God Maruti. There are also idols of Dattatraya and Parshwanath. It is said that the water of the pond is good for health. Even though water is available abundantly there is no habitation on the fort. The temple of Maruti was renovated by Dahanebuva of Ninapadali. The tomb of Abdul Karim, a Musalman Saint which is inside the fort is still visited by a few people. An Urus is held in his honour for five days before Holi Paurnima. The fort was the head-quarters of an administrative sub-division with a treasury and had an establishment of a mamlatdar, phadnis, sabnis, havaldar and daffedar, two karkuns, three naiks, and one hundred and sixty sepoys. According to tradition the fort was built by the Silahara king Bhoj II, of Panhala [Grant Duff’s Marathas, Vol. I, 27.]. In 1673 with other Satara forts it was surrendered to Shivaji [Grant Duffs Marathas, Vol. I, 202.]. The Pratinidhi, administered it till his struggle with Bajirav, the second Peshva (1720-1740). In 1791 Major Price describes it as looking like the hull of a ship of war with opposite it another hill with on its summit some places of devotion [Memoirs of a Field Officer, 261.]. In the last Maratha war it fell to the army of General Pritzler in April, 1818. In 1862, it is described as a dismantled and uninhabited fort with a steep approach and a strong gateway but no water and no supplies [Government List of Civil Forts, 1862.]
Tourism has been a prominent industry nowadays and in the last decade it has seen a mammoth growth in turnover and tourists inlay. Though the horizons of this industry are left with no bounds, as it has been an inter-continental affair. Still there are certain places around us, which are hardly been explored. Pateshwar alias Patheshwar aka Surya Patheshwar is one such place near Satara where one can find copious archaic sculptures.
On Mumbai-Bangalore National Highway No. 4, after passing Satara city, take left on Satara-Solapur state highway. Just after one kilometre, take Satara-Addl MIDC road leading to Degaon. This is just nine-kilometer distance from Satara ST Bus terminus. Go south for four kilometres and after leaving village Degaon, you find a long, green stretch of the Western Gahts, adjacent to Janai Malai Hill. From roads, you won’t find any structure on the Pateshwar Hill as the entire hill is wrapped in a green thick blanket of trees. The jungle is of semi-deciduous type with teak, banyan, Jajmun, Karvee and other tree varieties. With lyrical notes of an Indian Robin or Whistling Barbet, one can find serene environ with cool feeling.
Then starts a muddy road followed by well-maintained tar road that takes you on the mid part of the hill. On the way, you need to park your vehicle near a precipice from where you can take a panoramic view of the same National Highway that takes you to Kolhapur. You can see Sajjangad, Urmodi Dam on one side and Satara MIDC on the other.
Wait! At the beginning of steps, you find a Lord Ganesha idol with Ridhi-Sidhi, his wives. The feminine sitting posture makes you think what it might be. History books say, it was the time when, Ganesha to kill a demon, had to appear in a woman form. And from here the mystery begins. More you go on the hill; you find two different Lord Shiva temples and an Ahsram, recently built by Swami Govindanand, one local saint.
In the closet vicinity of the first Hemadpanti Shiva Temple, you find many pieces of statuettes around it and the sidewalls of the temple consists of cave-like openings on the either sides of entrance. One of such never-seen-before engrave has a huge Shivalinga and the other consists of a Hanuman idol. The premises also comprise of two big Deepmalas.
Once you enter the main temple, you find superbly carved Nandi statue in front of the Shivlinga. Another stupendous thing you will find just in front of the Nandi. The miniature figurine gives a view of wedding scene of Lord Shiva and Parvati. On the either sides of main temple there are small temples where you find iconic idols of Kartikeya and another Nandi with a human face. The 18-armed Goddess Mahishasur Mardidni carving is in similar context with that of Kalikamata of Kolkata. In the temple itself, you will find sculpture of Lord Vishnu sitting on the snake and both in horizontal position.
After paying obeisance to the Lord Shiva you move to the eastern part of the hill and on the way again, you find stone-carved cave-like structures, filled with water. These all three cave-lets are again with Shivlingas of various sizes and some unknown kind of god statues. There is one stone-constructed water tank called Hatti Talab around these cave like temples. Normally it has been understood that all Shivlingas have their pointed opening towards North direction, but here one can find omni-directional opening.
From here you take left turn and move towards upper part and you find a temple as if it has been emerged out of soil. This three-sectioned temple begins with a Deepmala, followed by a Nandi. This whole temple is at sub-ground level hence lot of water logging has been seen. The either sides of this temple too consist of cave-like structures and numerous Shivlingas in different forms and the number of Salunki range from three to 100.
Now comes the haunting part of the Pateshwara. You enter the main temple and find a Maha Shiva Linga carved with minute necklace-like linings on it. These are nothing but 551 small Pindis carved on the main Pindi. All the walls are carved with such minute Pindis and the total number of such Pindis is not less than 1,008. The main Pindia deeped in water has exclusivity of the kind and there are number of carvings on the monolithic poles of the temple that you are left spell bound. One snake-like carving, sculptures of the eight Avatars of Lord Vishnu and even you will notice linguistic carvings in Modi script on one of the poles.
Wait, take breath, and see around with caution, you may find white skin on Cobra floating in water. Certainly, snakes do reside there. Take breath, have a sigh of relief and then pay your obeisance to this mesmerising lord Shiva. There were some geographical sculptures like Solar Clock earlier, but now almost all the sculptures are in dilapidated condition, as nobody knows the significance of it.
Historians, sculptresses, art-lovers and geography experts are required to carry out research at Pateshwar and they may come out with awesome findings. The place has not been even recognised by the tourism department, forests or any other government department. Only a religious trust looks after and on the last Monday of Shravan month, one can see a religious get together of the devotees of Lord Shiva. After completing the entire hill, you start climbing down the hill left spell bound with the mesmerising things.
A book written by a Satara-based historian R K Dhongade has written a book titled ‘39 Lakh-year-old Our Country-Our Religion’ in Marathi. The book is all about Pateshwar and it mentions that in the pre-historian era, there had been a geographical observatory of one mystic Saptarshi. This soothsayer carried out various experiments to calculate time, decide days of month and year and study the biological clock of nature on the basis of tracking of the sun. According to him Pateshwar has been the origin of Hindu religion and culture. One can find references of Pateshwar in Bhagvad Geeta and Matsya Purana, Dhongade says.
You can refer this link : Shree Pateshwar Map on Wikimapia
Sajjangad – ( A Spiritual Place of Well known Saint in Maharashtra ) – Sajjangad is place of great saint Samartha Ramdas Swami – Spiritual guru of Shivaji Maharaj. Ramdas Swami is famous for his message of mental and physical exercise. Sant Ramdas was a strong man , he emphasized on the fact that a healthy mind resides in a healthy body. He established temples of god Hanuman all across Maharashtra and India. These temples was meant for exercise known as ‘Talim’. He was Chatrapathi Shivaji’s spiritual guru. His writings ‘Manache Shlok’-Thoughts of Mind, and Dasbodh teaches principles of life through simplest way. You can see Saint Ramdas Swami’s tomb here. This is also a Hill fort visited by thousands of pilgrims and trekking entusiasts. You can reach by road almost up the fort followed by climb of 100 steps to reach on top. Accommodation is available from charity trust. Fort gives great views of scenic beauty, most watchfull is view of Urmodi Damn, windfarms of Chalkewadi. And apart from all gives sense of mental peace because of its unmatchable climate, beauty and spirituality.