Monday, December 23, 2013

Salher-Salota, Mulher-Mora - Trek

Ever since I heard about the highest fort in Maharashtra, Salher, and saw the pictures of the impressive mountain, I've been making plans to visit Salher and it's satellite fort of Salota. I came across a group that had organized a 2 days and 3 nights trek that also included Mulher and Mora and immediately decided to board the ship.

Salher, Salota, Mulher, and Mora belong to the Baglan region of Sahyadris. This area has experienced vibrant and intense moments in history. The famous Battle of Salher (1671-72 AD) took place near Salher fort. This major battle was probably the only battle that Shivaji fought on open ground against the Mughals. (Most of his battles involved sneaking up on the enemy and taking them by surprise.) The forts do have remnants of their original splendour albeit in a dilapidated manner. If you allow your imagination to soar, you can build up a splendid and vivid picture of what these forts would have been in their glory. I wish our leaders or institutes would have spent some money to maintain such monuments from the past.

Day 0 - Pune-Waghambe
We started from Pune to Waghambe village that is just before Salherwadi, the base village for Salher fort. The journey was quite long and we reached at around 7:30 AM at the base. After a quick breakfast, we started the climb for Salher.

Day 1 - Salher-Salota
The plan was to climb Salher and Salota and reach the Waghambe village by evening. We started at around 9:30 AM for Salher. The climb though not difficult, is on a continous incline.
Salher fort from Salherwadi
The route throughout has several doors or gateways. Some of them are really impressive. There are some steps on the way cut in stone.
You can see the incline
After reaching a plateau, we walked along till the main caves on Salher. The caves are big enough to fit almost 20-30 people. From the caves, we started our walk to the highest point on Salher, the Parshuram temple.
Towards the Parshuram Temple
From here, we see the Baglan range. We could also spot Mulher-Mora and Hargad. We could also spot Salota that is connected to Salher.
Nearest mountain is Salota
It's difficult to guess the way that takes you up Salota. It seems as if it's cleverly disguised. After spending some time near the Parshuram temple, we started climbing towards the ridge that connects Salher and Salota. This walk was the best part of the trek.
Salota on the left while traversing Salher
Traversing around Salher, looking at the steep valley below, walking along endless water cisterns and caves, sometimes walking under overhanging rock, and continuously looking towards the beckoning Salota.
Salher to Salota - route map
While exiting Salher towards the connecting ridge, there is another door that leads to steps down to the ridge. Walking across the ridge, we looking for a road towards Salota. This is another traverse around till the point of stone-cut steps. We managed to get lost and after asking a shepherd, we got back on track.
Onwards the ridge to Salota
Salota is steeper and more challenging than Salher. All along the traverse, there is a valley on one side while you are continuously climbing. Even the steps are high.
Salota and it's rock-cut steps
After reaching the top of Salota, we were amazed how similar Salher looks to that of salota from afar. It's almost a pyramid in shape.
Salher as seen from Salota
There are water tanks on top of both Salher and Salota and if you carry Medichlor, you can be relaxed about the availability of water. The vegetation is sparse around and because of the continuous shining sun, you are bound to be thirsty and so do not worry about water.

From the top of Salota, we again descended to the ridge connecting Salher-Salota and from this point, we started walking towards the base village of Waghambe. It was quite a long walk and by the time we reached the village, we had to use torches as it became dark after sunset. At Waghambe village, our bus was waiting to take us to Mulherwadi, the base village for Mulher, where we planned to stay overnight. We stayed in an ashram overnight and ate at a locals place.

Day 2 - Mulher-Mora
After an early morning breakfast, we resumed day 2 of our trek. I was worried that the long walk and climb that we did for Salher and Salota would cause some muscle ache on Day 2, but the deep overnight sleep and limbering up done in the morning sun proved to be rather good.

Mulher trek starts from Mulherwadi. All along the trek, we could see the steep peaks of Mangi - Tungi right opposite Mulher.

After the initial walk traversing around the fort through shrubs and grasses, we reach the beautiful Ganesh temple.
Ganesh temple en route Mulher. Hargad in the background.
From here, the route towards the east takes you to Mulher while the western route takes you to Hargad. After a while we came across another water tank called “Moti tank”. There is a story that Shivaji dumped some of his loot from Surat in this water tank to lessen his load. There is a big tank nearby that is called “Hatti (elephant) tank.”

The climb towards the top of Mulher is across a beautiful route that goes zig-zag between walls built to stop the enemy.
It is incredible to see the old structures standing the test of time and nature. Then again, you can stop and wonder about the erstwhile original structure and be completely impressed.
Reaching the top of Mulher
I loved the climb on Mulher more than the climb on Salher. It was a lot more impressive in terms of beauty but not as difficult.
Mulher on left, Mora on right - route map
The tricky part was the connecting ridge between Mulher and Mora. While it was not as long as that between Salher and Salota, it was quite tricky in terms of the slope and the deep valley on one side. Mora can be climbed from the ridge via a stone-cut steps leading towards a door.
The stone steps leading to the top of Mora
There are no structures on top of Mora and after spending a little time, we descended as we had to resume our journey to Pune.

This was a memorable trek, and very different from the nearby ranges in Pune. The mountains in the Baglan region are steep and most of them have a prominent cliff peaking on top. I’ll remember this most for the wonderful traverses that were challenging for the body and mind.

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