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Torna is about 40-50 km southwest of Pune in the Sahyadri mountain range. It comes in Velhe taluka. This area of district receives heavy rainfall. Most of it is covered with forest. Sag, Teak, Oak, Mango, are the trees found in the forest.
Because of lots of 'Toran trees' found on it, the people started calling the fort as 'Torna' and it was renamed as 'Prachandagad' by Shivaji Maharaj because of its wide area. It is the highest fort in Pune district (1405 m). James Douglas says about Torna, "It was Shivaji Maharaj's first conquest, the nucleus around which all the others clustered, making it virtually the cradle of the Maratha Empire, which shocked the throne of the great Moguls. It has been the scene of many bloody battles. If Sinhagad is Lion's cave then Torna is Eagle's nest".
This fort is believed to be constructed by the Shaiva Panth, followers of Hindu god Shiva, in 13th century. During 1470 to 1486 A.D., Malik Ahmed, a Bahmani ruler, captured this fort. Later Nizamshah ruled it. In the 1646, Shivaji Maharaj brought this fort under his control and named it Prachandagad. He was the one who built some new monuments here. After his daring escape from Agra, he came here & renovated the fort. Moguls took over the fort after Sambhaji Maharaj’s assassination. But Marathas regained control over the fort due to the efforts of Shankaraji Narayan Sachiv. In 1704 A.D. Aurangzeb captured the fort. He named it as Futulgaib or The Divine Victory. However, within 4 years Sarnobat Nagoji Kokate was able to re-establish Maratha control here. The fort was in Maratha Empire till end of Peshwai.
How to go?
To get to the Torna, one has to first reach the base village - Velhe. From Swargate bus station in Pune, take a state transport bus with route 'Swargate - Velhe - Ghisar'. This bus will drop you at Velhe in around 1hr 45 minutes. It will be good to start in early morning for the fort. 6.30am bus will be very good option to reach early to the fort.
Path 2: Rajgad – Torna
This is a rather longer – tougher trek. It is part of duel fort trek of Rajgad and Torna. For this path one can take 'Swargate – Velhe' bus as told to Margasani village. Then via Sakhargaon you can reach Gunjavane village. From here, it is about 3 hours trek to Padmavati Machee of Rajgad. From Sanjivani Machee of Rajgad, there is direct route to Budhala Machee of Torna, which is about 5-6 hrs walk.
Difficulty: Medium to Difficult
Best Time to visit
Rock climbing is best done during winter and early summers. Avoid the journey during monsoons when the path becomes dangerous due to mud and slippery rocks (Though for some crazies, it might be more exciting).
Places to Watch
- Konkan Darwaja
- Zunjar Machee
- Mengai Goddess temple
- Kothi Darwaja
- Budhla Machee – my favourate place on fort
- Toranjai Goddess temple
It was long time since the last 'real' trek (Koraigad, Rajmachi on bike can't exactly be stated as 'trek'). Also we needed a break from daily boring routine of office. So it was decided on Wednesday to go for a trek to Torna on Saturday 5th November 2011.
We were total 5 people. One of us has already been there for a couple of times, so there was no need to worry about roads and directions.
We all met at Swargate on Saturday morning 7.15 o'clock, Kicked off the bikes and went on the air towards Satara. A few pit stops for food and fuel, and we reached Nasrapur at about 8 o'clock.
It was still 30 km of journey till the fort and the places around were pure beauty – typical Indian villages, cattle and dogs, little kids running around and scenic mountain peaks of sahyadri. On top of all, the view of two of the highest peaks – Rajgad and Torna was just intoxicating.
We reached to the base village of the fort – Velhe – at about 08.45 o'clock. After parking bikes and some time-pass we started the actual ascend.
The first half of the path to the fort was mostly through meadows. It was a pleasant walk with light talks. It took around 50 minutes to climb this initial part. It was very easy till this point. But Remaining half part had steep rock patches with steps carved in stone. It was medium difficult through this part of ascend, real fun for trekkers. It felt like ascend is never ending in this part. It took an hour more to reach the core of the fort.
|Going towards Budhla Machee|
We bought some lime water / Butter milk from local kids. Our ”guide” was too bored so he stayed at Mengai Temple. Four of us were looking around fort. Two of which dropped out after Konkan Darwaja because of both hunger and tiredness and went back to join our leader. Rest of us went to see Budhla Machee and path towards Rajgad. This part of trek was amazing. Narrow rock patches, valley on both side and intense sunlight (it was almost 1230 hrs) – this was the real deal. You really come to know, why this fort is called as Prachandagad on this path.
We came back to Mengai Temple at about 1.45. Everybody was pretty hungry. We took out our supplies, had a light lunch – fruits, chikkis, chips etc, while talking about Gaddafi and Hitler (ha-ha!).
After about an hour of lunch and relaxation, we decided to start descend.
Descend is pretty easy path. It was 3 o'clock when we started. we almost came down running (Though not advised). The rocky patch in between was a speed-breaker, but most exciting part of descend.
We reached to the base village at 4.15 o'clock, cleaned up our faces with water. Had some snacks at local hotel. At about 5 o'clock we started our journey back to Pune. One stop at Nasrapur, and we were at home 7 o'clock sharp.
Not so tired but sure got a noticeable tan (with some calling it sunburn). Once again, dirty cloths, smelly socks, and enlightenment of exertion. All-n-all, it was a nice experience for a weekend after a long time.