“Meeting old school friends unexpectedly is such a pleasure!”
I was doing the routine exercise on the ground and I noticed him- Soham, the most mischievous guy in our school. We were meeting after 6 long years. While remembering the good old days over a chat, we decided to hike on a weekend.
Pune is blessed with many scenic spots around and Lonavala is one of them. I have heard about Aamby valley many times but did not get a chance to visit. Yeah, you guessed right.
In the early morning, we left towards Khandala. Though we were dying out of cold, the foggy weather was beautiful. As the palms have already given up, we took a break to see the beautiful sunrise. What a sight? The shiny ball was rolling over the thick clouds. Going further, we took a stop at a divergence to Karla caves to eat the famous Misal-Pav. As usual, I preferred it without onion-garlic.
As the sun rose, we got to senses- It is November. As soon as Khandala ghat started, the cool breeze drove us away from the vibes of scorching heat. The ghat is picturesque. In a series of short trails, one goes through a dense dark forest and sunny patches… And if you are riding on a bike, then it is Sone pe Suhaga!
In between, we noticed a group of trekkers going somewhere and a “bhataku” inside me started jumping. Wait, we have planned for Aamby and I have to cool down by myself. After a ride of 3 hours, we came to the entrance. Soham got down for inquiry. I thought, he will come back with entry passes and what a bad luck? The meticulously crafted city was allowing entries only for the residents, unlike Lavasa city. The city was allowing tourists a year back but then they stopped.
We were having an entire day with us, koi baat nahi…Suddenly, I remembered the site I saw a few minutes back. We drove back and came to know, there is a fort- Korigad. This is what an unexpected gateway is! Coming at peth Shahpur, we asked a couple of villagers about the fort. Parking our vehicles near a temple, we marched towards the fort.
Meanwhile, we saw a group of children playing. One of them asks us “Bhaiya, kya main apko fort tak leke jau?”. Tourists generally search for a guide and here we got an enthusiast without any endeavor. Children can be a very good guide as they explore the nearby areas and tell you the best of the things.
One can feel the heart racing as you climb to the top while enjoying the grand view of the surrounding colossal ranges. The little guy was climbing as if it is his daily routine and we were struggling. Hahaha! With an effort of 40 min, we came to the grand entrance. He showed us the beautiful carving of Goddess Korai nearby.
The fort comprises of a flat terrain with beautiful sights all around. One can walk along its entire perimeter (about 2 km). Its massive gate is also intact. Several ruins of older structures within the fort still exist. Further to your right is a plateau that juts out as a finger. One has to walk about half a km to the end of this finger to go to old fort wall which one can climb to get a view of the Amby valley. The airstrip is clearly visible from here.
The awe-inspiring architecture of the fort reminds you of its presence in various ancient battles fought by the great Maratha warriors. There are two beautiful ponds in between which was used storing water in ancient days.
A temple to its patron goddess Koraidevi also exists along with several smaller temples dedicated to Vishnu and Shiva. The former has been recently renovated and has a 3-foot-high Deepmala (tower of lamps). It has six cannons – the largest of which called the Laxmi Toph is located near the Korai Devi temple.
The visit to this fort also fulfilled our desire to see the city. One can see every nook of the city from the walls. The planned township of Aamby valley is built over the fort’s southern and eastern foothills. To the east, there lie two artificial lakes part of the Aamby Valley project which later drains into the Mulshi dam.
There are very few places in Lonavala that allow you to go away from swarming crowds of tourists laying claim to every square inch of green grass in sight! Korigad Fort is one such place. The awe-inspiring architecture of the fort reminds you of its presence in various ancient battles fought by the great Maratha warriors. It provides an excellent 360-degree view of the surrounding area including Amby Valley and the backwaters of Mulshi Dam. Delightful panoramic view of the surroundings, mesmerizing prevailing serenity of the place marks it as one of the beautiful treks!