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Torna Trek

From past several weeks, we were planning to go Torna. Torna is not very common among trekkers and we read very little about Torna in travelogs. We decided a very special day for this trek.
The day was the first day of year 2005, i.e. 1-Jan-2005.
Starting the new year with a trek to such an uncommon fort was really a nice idea. We were planning for one day trek. But everybody of us shown interest in night halt on the fort, so plan has been changed accordingly.

About Torna:
Torna is the first fort conquered by Shivaji Maharaj. Torna got its name because of Toran trees it was having in numbers. Torana is also known as 'Prachandagad' because it is a wide spread fort. Its height is 1403 m (4604 ft). This is the second highest fort in Sahyadri range.
Velhe is base village of Torana. Its around 60 km from Pune at South-West. There are frequent buses from Swargate, which take around 2 hours to reach Velhe. Many jeeps are also there from Nasrapur phata (around 30 km from Pune on Pune-Satara road) to Velhe.
One more route to reach Velhe is Pune-Sinhagad Road-Donje Phata-Khanapur-Velhe. By this route, Velhe is just 50 km. Don't know about buses on this route.
Road to Velhe is in very good condition. So one can also opt to go on bikes.

We were 7 friends for this trek- Abhay J., Anil, Abhijit, Datta, Laxman, Sudhir and myself. We took 8.00 am bus from Swargate and reached Velhe at 10.15 am. There are few small hotels here. We had breakfast in one of the hotel.

One can see a huge mountain from the village, and that is Torna.

The Torna trek is divided into 3 parts, a big mountain, the actual fort and a plateau connecting the mountain and the fort.
We started the actual trek at 11.00 am. In the first part itself, we lost the path. It was not possible to go back and take the correct route. So, we proceeded on the same way through dense bushes. After crossing a very risky and vertical cliff, we came on the main route. We were calling this main route as National Highway No. 4 (NH4) as it was quite easy to walk and safe.:-) After going a short distance on NH4, we reached on the plateau.
It was already 1.00 pm when we reach here. The plateau is not very big. But scene from it is fantastic. Long down at one side, there is Velhe region. Area on the other side of the plateau is called Kanad valley. One can see Kanindi river flowing through the valley. A new Gunjavane Dam has been built on the river recently.

After resting for 10 minutes and having some snaps, we started the final part of the trek, ascending the actual mountain of Torna fort. This path is a difficult one. Deep valley on one side and a very narrow and slippery path accompanying it. The main obstacle in this final part
are two rock patches. Very soon, we came across to the first rock patch. We crossed it successfully even if everybody of us was loaded with heavy bags. The path here onwards was a bit easy, not like NH4, but like a State Highway. :-)
After going on this way for few minutes, we were below the final rock patch. This patch is the most difficult and thrilling part of the trek. One can see the remains of the metal railing here. But the railing is not there now. The climb is very steep. There is deep valley just behind you while you are climbing. So, it is advisable not to look back while climbing this part. Once you are through this section, you are at Bini Darwaja. This is the entry point of the fort. We reached the top at around 2.15 pm. We were a bit exhausted. But once we saw down from the top, that was a truly satisfying moment.

There is a small temple of Toranjai, in one of the buruj here. This is where Shivaji Maharaj found earthen pots filled with gold coins. After walking a small distance, we reached at Mengai devi temple. This is where we are about to stay at night. The temple is very big and
30-40 people can accommodate in it. A very small walk in front of the temple will take you to the 'Mengai Taake'. This is where you can find the potable water on the fort. Water in 'Mengai Taake' is ice cold and sweet. It reminds you 'Dev Taake' of Sinhagad. We were carrying
packed food (bread, butter, jam, khakara, chivda) with us. We took it at Mengai temple.

Being the highest place in nearby region, one can see many forts and dams from this fort. You can easily see Rajgad, Sinhagad, Raigad, Lingana, Panshet dam,  Varasgaon dam, Khadakvasla dam, Nira-Devghar dam of Bhor. If weather is clear, you can also see Purandar fort and Pune city.

By the time our lunch completed, it was 4.30 pm. We started to move around the fort. We saw Bhel Buruj, Zunjar Maachi, Budhla Maachi, Konkan Darwaja.
There is a ladder on Bhel Buruj to go to Zunjar Maachi. The path is very risky.
A descend from Budhala Maachi takes you to Rajgad. This is a nice trek of around 6 hours. This trek is now there in our list.

Route through Konkan Darwaja can take you to Raigad. This is a big trek, and will take atleast 2 days.

By the time of sunset, we collected some wooden sticks. At 7.00 pm we started the campfire. We took the dinner just beside the campfire. Dinner was having theple, boiled eggs, cake and parathe. After dinner, we had antakshari, some sheroshayari and jokes. At 10.00 pm we went to sleep inside the temple. Two more groups were also on Torna that night. So, we were around 25 people inside the temple. It was very very chilly outside, but very warm inside the temple.

Next day, we got up at around 7.00 am. Had some last night's left over cakes as breakfast, and started descending the fort at 8.00 via the same route. We reached the base village Velhe at 10.30 am. We had some snacks over there and took a bus to Pune at 11.45. But the bus got punctured on the bus stop itself, so we took jeep upto Nasrapur phata. From there we got bus to Pune and come back to Swargate by 2.30 pm.

Thus overall, we had a wonderful time on the first 2 days of the new year. I am very much eager to go back to Torna again. Soon, I'll get that chance when we'll fix our plan for Torna-Rajgad trek.
Torna trek is a must-do trek for every trekker.

Someone has correctly said about Torna, "Sinhagad hi sinhachi guha asel tar Torna he garudache gharate aahe."

To see photos of this trek, click here.