TORNA the garland (Toran) of Swarajya: Trek to the Prachandgad
Historical Significance of Torna fort…
Torna the first fort captured in 1646 by Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj at age of 16 during the establishment of Swarajya and the Maratha Empire. Known for it massive structure and the highest fort not only in Pune but all over Maharashtra, it was name as the Prachandgad (Huge fort).
Since Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj started the Swarajya establishment by capturing this fort, it is known as the toran (Garland) of Swarajya. Also there are numerous varieties of flora found on the fort which are used to make garland. Hence, it was renamed as Torna.
Being 4609 feets above from sea level, it is indeed a challenging fort to climb. Velhe village, which is the base village lies at the foot of this significant fort.
How you reach Torna fort…?
Torna Fort route from Pune…
Torna Fort is around 25-30 Kms from Nasarapur Phata. Nasarapur Phata lies on the Mumbai-Banglore highway NH-48. Trekkers coming from Pune/Mumbai can catch up bus from Swargate Pune to reach Velhe village or you can get down at Nasarapur and hire sharing vehicle.
There is a bus from Swargate Pune to Torna fort directly at early morning 6am. If you are unable to catch up you can travel from Swargate to Nasrapur Phata and then from there you can hire sharing cab towards Torna Fort.
Distance from Mumbai to Torna Fort: 214 Kms
Distance from Pune to Torna Fort: 71.6 Kms
“Don’t worry if you are alone in your journey because once you reach the top everyone will want to be with you..”
My Experience of the Prachandgad…
During our trek, it was not even half the way up of first patch and we were exhausted. The mountain is too inclined, increasing the difficulty of trek. Our journey towards up took 3 Hrs as we were resting every few minutes as the climb was very tough.
If you have personal vehicle, there is a roadway constructed till some distance upwards (covering first patch of the climb) where you can drive your vehicle. This fort will make you feel tired from the beginning of the trek. One need to keep strong mindset to climb the fort and never quit in the middle of the trek.
After reaching 1/4 th way upwards, one can experience the massiveness of this fort along with the long never ending stretches of Sahyadris all around you.
From the second patch one can view of both sides of the fort. Also Gunjawne dam built on Kanadh river can be seen from the the second patch.
Bini Darwaja and Kothi Darwaja…
The last patch of the climb is a rock patch and is the difficult one. But iron railings are built to make the climb easier, so it becomes a bit feasible to climb this patch.
Once you conquer this patch you will reach to the main enterance of the fort called as Bini Darwaja. This is the main entry to the fort, if you observe carefully you can see huge door hinges made up of rock which were used for opening and closing of the main door.
“You can Rest When You Reach the TOP”
Moving a bit forward you will come across the Kothi Darwaja which is the huge enterance to enter the premises of the fort. The speciality of the architecture (Gou-Mukh type: In the manner cow turns its neck backwards) of the Kothi Darwaja is that one have to enter the premises of the fort from this U-shaped turn. This U-turn is constructed in such a manner that one entering or attacking the fort cannot view the main enterance door of the fort, but the guards guarding (tat-bandhi) on the buruj (wall of the fort) of the fort can easily keep a watch who is entering the fort.
Have a look below for the Gou-Mukh Architechture of the Kothi Darwaja.
Menghai devi temple and newly built Ashram on the fort for shelter of trekkers…
On the fort there are many old as well as new constructions. There is one newly built constrcution like an Aashram which can be a temporary place for shelter for the trekkers who are wiling for a stay on the fort.
Newly built aashram for the stay of trekkers
There is also an old temple on the fort which is of years old construction on the fort. Trekkers can also be found here for a stay on the fort. This ancient temple is of Goddess Menghai Devi and many pictures of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Mavle can be seen in the temple.
The Zunjar machi and the Budhla Machi…
There are two machis on the fort, machi is the strongest point or the part of the fort which is the difficult point to capture. Lets have a look at the two machis below.
We first explored the Zunjar machi of the fort. The way to the Zunjar machi is very tough and risky. The path starts from an iron ladder from where you need to descend downwards from the walls of the fort. After coming down from the ladder you need to climb down the small rock patch and then make your way to the Zunjar machi.
Again you need to climb down one rock patch which is very much difficult and risky. It will be advised for only expert trekkers to climb down this route and head towards Zunjar machi or else you can avoid this and experience the machi from above this patch.
Since I had two experts with me, I decided to climb down under their guidance and made it to the Zunjar machi. From the above pics one can make a judgement how difficult the way is towards the Zunjar machi and why this machi is named so.
“Everything is a RISK…NOT DOING ANYTHING is a RISK….Its upto YOU…”
After exploring Zunjar machi, we again climbed up the rock patches and went to the other side of the fort i.e near the Konkan Darwaja. This entrance of the fort is named as Konkan Darwaja (Konkan door) as it is faced towards the Konkan region.
From Konkan Darwaja there is a route towards the Budhla machi and Rajgad fort. The path towards Rajgad is of around 5-6 hours. If trekkers plan for a stay then they can visit the Rajgad fort as well along with the Torna fort. Again the architecture of the Konkan Darwaja is same as the Kothi Darwaja.
The Budhla machi is on the other end of the fort and is on the way towards Rajgad. Due to time constraints we couldn’t visit Budhla machi but we managed to have some good clicks with the Budhla machi.
We completed exploring the fort in 3 to 3 1/2 Hrs and it was worth the climb. This fort shows us the history of our Maharashtra and how difficult it would be during the old times not only to climb the fort but also fight and capture the fort. Great were the Maratha warriors great was the King Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
“झनझविला भगव्याच्या समान तुम्ही,
जागविले मरगळलेले मर्द मावळे तुम्ही,
घडविले श्रीं चे स्वराज्य तुम्ही,
ऐसे श्रीमंत योगी अखंड महाराष्ट्राचे कुलदैवत,
श्री राजा शिवछञपती तुम्ही… !!”