Joys of life are found in simplest of gestures. It may be a simple compliment by a stranger, an appreciation by a boss, a friend trying out a restaurant recommended by you and in this case getting people who have never trekked to trek [with me :)] I know by the end, they would feel joy which is unknown unless they trek and I wait to see that in their eyes, hear them say those words, feel connected with nature and crave to do it all over again.
So here we were, Smitha, Vishal and I heading towards Torna with TrekDi, a group that was new to us to explore yet another fort, which happens to be the tallest mountain in Pune District. Smitha is a professional photographer with varied interests. And the thought of climbing a beautiful mountain without her DSLR did not appeal to her. Hence, though it is bulky and heavy, she got along her priced possession with the passion for clicking some brilliant shots. On reaching Velhe, the base village, we freshened up, had some good breakfast and readied ourselves for the mountain in front of us. For a first time trekker, Torna is a tuf trek and Smitha realized that within the first 15 minutes but with the support of her husband Vishal and Abhishek from TrekDi, Smitha hiked, one step at a time till she reached the peak. You see, there’s one thing about trekking in groups. Once you start, there is no turning back. You can take all the time you want but you HAVE to complete the trek.
For Torna, I think I was in the best form. I had done almost 8-9 treks back to back, my endurance level was at its best and at times from being the last one in the group, I would hike at great speed to be the first one within minutes. I loved it. Loved to see myself hiking so well. I could run at some points after a good climb. The feeling is exhilarating.
Torna is a beautiful mountain. Though the route to Torna is simple as far as directions are concerned the route is quite steep at certain parts of the route and one needs to be careful to not miss the foot trail. The Torna trek route can be divided in three parts – an initial climb up the hill, a plateau and the final rock patch to enter the Torna fort via the Bini Darwaja. The height of Torna from sea level is 1405 metres and offers spectacular views of Sahyadri Mountains. Once you reach the top there’s a lot more to discover.
TORNA was the first fort conquered by Shivaji Maharaj after he vowed for Swaraj at Raireshwar. He put the garland (Called Toran in Marathi) of his first victory on this fort and therefore the name –TORNA. TORNA is also called prachandgadh because of it vastness.
The huge waterfall on your side, a well carved out path, beautiful plateaus and gorgeous shrubs push you towards the peak. Just before you reach the pinnacle, you come across yet another beautiful waterfall and this one is the most beautiful of all. The rocks are wet by the not so ferocious waterfall and covered with pink flowers. It is gorgeous. I can do Torna again just to see this waterfall again.
We walked around discovering more forts, darwazas of these kilas, taking pictures, sipping on some hot tea and enjoying the rain. We reached a temple for lunch where we sat in circles, chatted and gobbled up fruits, rotis and some bread. After a round of photography we started descending. Apparently you get a really nice view of the fort from the top but we couldn’t see much as it was hidden in the clouds.
While trekking down we tried at least 20 times to capture some good pictures. But every time we pulled our cameras out, the clouds would immediately hide the view as if to protect it from the eyes of people who haven’t visited Torna. The game went on for a long time before we managed to get some out of this world images!
The leaders of TrekDi are a combination of teenagers and a few grown ups. One of the leaders, Abhishek from TrekDi is highly knowledgable about the flora and fauna in the Western Ghats and he is your man if you need to know anything about the mountains. Also he is an epitome of patience and did an amazing job of encouraging us!
All in all a MUST DO trek for everyone who is looking at exploring the Western Ghats!
Date: Sep 2, 2012
Time: 6AM PM to 6:00 PM
Place: Torna Fort, Velhe Village, Maharashtra, India
Organisers: TrekDi, Abhishek: +919423213153