This trip, is surely one of the most memorable trips, that I have done in the recent past. Not because I travelled to Pune, in a day and back. Not because I may have missed majority of one of the most memorable Manchester Derby's (Football), where we won 4-2 and secured 3rd place. But because on Sunday the 12th of April 2015, I was finally able to see and live the stories and triumphs I was told about as a child. I was able to visit the home of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj a great king and warrior of ancient Indian historical times. I was finally able to visit Shivneri Fort, in Pune. A place I have heard a lot about, and have always wanted to visit since an early age. I was always fond of kings, queens, warriors and stories of their triumphs and reigns. (Huge LOTR fan here.) So this visit surely did help me learn and understand things, about Shivaji and his early life and childhood a whole lot better.
It started off with me calling Anup (Founder of Bhramar, and Mr. boss organizer) during the week in the afternoon, confirming myself for the trip. Also assuring him, that no matter what happens (Heaven or earth moves.) I'll surely make it. Then the week went by really quickly and in no time it was Sunday. It's beautiful looking forward for something all week, and then finally seeing it happen. It was around 4:30 am, when I boarded a train from Kurla to Thane. It was a bit of a let down that no one else from the 36 or so that we're coming, we're coming from the suburbs. So it left me listening to the Beatles, sipping some chai and boarding an almost empty or so train to Thane. Post reaching Thane, I looked for Ananad Cinema hall (As Anup told me too), walking across the empty Thane station roads, in the dim yet not so shady street lights felt quite warm and homely. Soon, everyone began to gather at the hall. Tall, old, short, young, mothers, babies, students, you name it we had it. It was quite a mix bunch of people (From different professions and walks of life) all gathered in the early hours, all looking forward to a good trip. Felt like one big family of Bhramar volunteers, regulars and newbies. A family of strangers, away from home.
Maybe delays are a new trend. Or just trips I take are jinxed, but we did end up waiting quite a bit for the bus to arrive. But once it did, we soon filled in and caught our seats to set off. The bus journey onwards was quite a peaceful one, me including quite a few others caught up with some sleep. Some others munched on a few snacks and shared some pleasant conversations. We soon arrived at our Breakfast halt. We all caught a light bite, had some hot coffee and tea and set off again. We soon, began to pass the beautiful mountains, misty river and cloudy hills as we reached closer to our destination. We then arrived at the base point, and lied ahead of us the mighty mountain, which encompassed the long beloved Shivneri fort. The stairs greeted us, with longing gates and flowers.
Shivneri Fort was built under the aegis of Sahaji, the father of Shivaji, who wanted a strong fortification that could protect his family from the enemies. Jijabai (Shivaji's mother) spent the days of her pregnancy at Shivneri and it was here that Shivaji Maharaj was born, in the year 1627. Almost the entire childhood of Shivaji was spent playing inside the compound of the fort. He received most of his basic education at Shivneri only and the lessons he learnt here were responsible, to quite an extent, in shaping his personality as a great ruler.
We soon began to pass the gates. There were 7 different beautiful gates, set up for the enemies to cross, one more mightier than the other. We soon climbed up the steady stairs passing through the morning sun and breeze. Our first stop was at the Shiv Mandir, we first entered bare feet bowing in mercy and worship. We later gather outside the entrance, sitting one aside the other listening to Shilpa Parab Pradhan (Our Guide and Teacher, for the day.). She told us about the temple, and the early age history of the fort. How it was a very important historical structure, and how it was where Shivaji got his name Shivba here. We soon head back and upwards towards Ambarkhana (A grain, gold and food storage facility) which was well crafted and had vintage security and air circulation facilities (Impressive!).
We later passed Ganga & Jammuna one of more than ten water tanks present in Shivneri (This being the only potable and pure one.) We filled up our bottles and enjoyed the cold and earthy water of the tank, that was very refreshing to have in the warm sunny weather. We moved forward and came across, Shiv Kunj. Shiv Kunj is a monument constructed by the state government, in honor of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Inside Shiv Kunj there is an idol of Bal Shivaji and Jijabai made of “Panchdhatu” (An alloy of 5 metals.) Very beautiful, and artistic indeed. We later head forward to Shiv Janamasthan, we climbed up the narrow stairs and sat in a quarter where the entire group gathered up again and we began to listen to the birth story of the great king. How the modern day misconceptions of the three Shivaji Jayantis, due to change in the English and Hindu Calendar, and due to multiple beliefs and followers. Also stories about Jijabai and her strength and grace to and through Shivajis birth. It was really heart filling to hear. We then head towards Kadelot point, a place where prisoners were punished by throwing them down the fort. This point is on the northern end of the fort.
We had now reached the end of our visit long yet beautiful visit, we received a few words of conclusion and wisdom by Anup and Shilpa. It was followed by a quick round of introductions, and getting to know one another. As we were behind schedule, we then later rushed to the base point, got back to our bus and head towards our lunch point. In a comfy little village home, we then enjoyed some delicious food, that helped us reminisce over the day gone by. It was beautiful, the rocky hill and detailed architecture. The crafted strategic pathways and structures. The history and childhood memories of Shivaji and his family who lived and grew up at Shivneri, after whom he was named. We soon, got back to the bus and it was songs (Some self made new ones! and jokes, till the way back home!
It was a good experience. All wrapped up in one rushed yet, memorable day. Bhramar were quite efficient and warm with their organizing and experience delivery. However, sometimes on such trips, time passes by too quickly so delays are bound to happen learning and listening to new stories. However, overall it was a memorable day, and great set of people (Very family like! ).
Looking forward to my next getaway with Bhramar, and the group.
I know it will be quite a memorable and happy one :)
Picture of the Fort (Shivneri Fort 2015) :
This is Alman (You know, like Superman?) signing off, until next time.
Have a great day, and an adventurous weekend! :)
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