It was a beautiful weekend, heading out to Raigad to witness one of the most proclaimed and celebrated festivals in Pune. It started off from the Rajmachi trip with Mayyur (Wild Rangers, founder and boss.) mentioned he wants to go to Raigad next weekend for the festival and celebration. I had read a lot about it off late. And after visiting Shivneri a few months back, and watching a few documentaries my interest and need for going for this had peaked. I kind of signed right then he mentioned it and confirmed after a couple of days.
So there is twice when they celebrate it, once as per the calendar and once as per their cultural belief. We went for the calendar listed one, as the weekend prior which we missed was when the other one was celebrated. We met at 11:30ish at Dadar, I got into a cab with a few others up to the mini bus where I met the rest. We were small group of around 10 to 12 people or so. We had a young married couple, a few frequent trekkers, a first timer and a variant set of people. The ride to Raigad’s base was fun. I caught up with some sleep and listened to some nice mellow music on the way. It was early hours when we reached the base point where we could see vehicles hoarded up all around the place. I then began to realise how big this festival is and how many people come visit and travel from far and wide for this. The weather was chilly as the early monsoons had begun to kick in (No rain though, throughout this trip. Such is my luck!).
We walked the street to the base point of the mount, we grabbed some hot chai and bottles of water for the way up. The walk up was really pleasent, with stairs and patches of the mountain all along. There were kids, oldies, parents, trekkers. A whole lot of people walking and walking to see the fort and its pride. Shivaji Maharaj was surely a mighty ruler, and the ways his forts are shaped is truly a testimony to this. Shivaji Maharaj had seized the fort in 1656, then the fortress of Rairi, from the royal house of the Chandrarrao Mores, a junior or Cadet dynasty to descended from the ancient Maurya imperial dynasty. The last More king was a feudatory of the Sultan of Bijapur. Herenovated and expanded the fortress of Rairi and renamed it Raigad (the King's Fort). It became the capital of Shivaji's kingdom. In 1765 the Raigad Fort, along with Malwan in present Sindhudurg District, the southernmost district of Maharashtra, was the target of an armed expedition by the British East India Company, which considered it a piratical stronghold. In 1818 the fort was bombarded and destroyed by, using cannons.
After reaching up we had some nice breakfast in the form of upma. We then began exploring the fort. Being there for the first time, I was really fascinated with all the people, colours and noise around. The place was buzzing. We head from the entrance to the right end, and then to the main tower and base area where the function was on. Towards one side was talks, speeches and a more silent and civil session being conducted and towards the other side of the gate. Oh people were going bonkers. Swords, pagdis, dhol’s, colour and a lot of happy faces. It was festive. I think, I have never experienced celebration of this capacity ever before. The minute I stepped in with Arpit, Kapil and the others towards the crowd we were great by the color yellow being showered all upon us. My hat, camera, bag, you name it. And you’d think one would be annoyed. But I loved it. We went closer to the dhol, moved our hips a bit to all the music. Then moving forward we saw the market place and the throne.
We could also see the procession including a mimic of Shivaji his family and the congregation heading towards the celebration. I felt it was beautiful. I’m a big theatre fan, and this was just heartwarming to see. We then head to the temple(Jagdishwar Temple). Arpit protected our shoes, as we went quickly in. I liked the temple, peaceful and well tucked away. Then we head to Tak Mak Tok that gives you a beautiful view of the entire mountain range surrounding Raigad. Its a beautiful spot. Have to recommend you going there during the rains, I cant imagine how green and beautiful it must be then. We then took a halt around the point where we found some place. Grabbed a bite, chilled out a bit waited for the others scattered to catch up. We then took a group picture and head towards the bottom. Oh the crowd. I believe it was around 3, and the program had ended probably. As we all started heading down, the whole mob of people rushed downwards. All of a sudden the heat began to kick in too. And all the small stalls around yes had lemonade, but all of them ran out of water. It was surely a rush to the bottom. I believe the organiser could do a better job with people management, I know its hard to control such a lively crowd. But there were kids, old people, and woman. And I felt with a bit of organising a 1 hour or so path wouldn’t take 2 or more hours to cover. However on a whole it was good organising, I believe the people who make this happen year in and out do a fabulous job and some things can't really be prevented.
After losing, finding and again losing the others all of us finally reached the base point. Water never tasted this good, after reaching the bottom. We soon, with a bit of struggle (Mayyur we need to use Google locations more!) found the transport and head back. This was a beautiful experience. Usually treks or trips I do don’t include a whole lot of people or crowds. So this was different. And I seemed to love it. I surely will visit again and will make it a point to take a sword and orange flag along. I love how people are so passionate and in love with things they believe and adore. A lot to learn for me from this experience. And a lot of good people to meet too. We were soon in the bus heading home playing antakshari and longing the site of home.
Pictures of the Fort & Festival (Shivrajyabhishek Sohala 2015):
Show some love to Wild Rangers too and Mayyur:
This is Mr. Happy (Or you can call me Al) signing off, until next time.
Have a great day, and an adventurous weekend! :)
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