Trek to Sarasgad

Sarasgad seen from the first plateau on the way to the top. There is a set of 100 steps between the two rock faces seen on the left.

Sarasgad seen from the first plateau on the way to the top.
There is a set of 100 steps between the two rock faces seen on the left.

It had been some time since the Trek to Tikona, and it was time for another trek. I had some discussions with Pradeep, Vikrant and Shardul, and we zeroed in on going to Sarasgad.

Sarasgad is a small hill fort, just outside Pali. Pali is known for the temple of Ballaleshwar, one of the Ashtavinayks. The height of the fort is approximately 1400 fet, but since you start climbing from the sea level, you climb the whole height.

The Kids. We had 4 kids with us on this hike, ages between 2 yrs 9 months to 3 years 7 months. Hats off to them and their parents.

The Kids. We had 4 kids with us on this hike, ages between 2 yrs 9 months to 3 years 7 months. Hats off to them and their parents.

Soon, we had enrollment from 35 people for the trek. Enough for us to afford a private bus for the whole day. Pali is about 85 kilometers from Mumbai. One can reach it either via Mumbai Goa highway, or via khopili using the Mumbai Pune express highway. We chose to go by the Mumbai Pune express highway, since it will help us reach fast. I had also announced that young children are also welcome, and there were four children around the age of 3 years were also going to come, in addition to 35 adults. Had I been to Sarasgad before, and had I known how hot it would get during the day, I don’t think I would have announced it. One of the participants was also a friend from IIT days, Naru, whom I was going to meet him after I graduated from IIT 30 years ago.🙂

The morning was pretty cool, I wore a sweater. We started around 7.45 from Vashi. As usual, the bus journey was great fun, with the usual group songs, antakshari and so. We reached Pali around 10, and after the Ballaleshwar darshan, we started around 10.30 AM. By then, it had started getting pretty  hot. It was difficult to believe that the morning has been so cool.

After climbing for about half an hour more. Much nearer now.

After climbing for about an hour more. Much nearer now.

The path to the fort starts right from inside the temple. As you face the fort, we go towards the right and start climbing. There is a series of small plateaus connected by some steep climbs. No exposure at all, but the heat was killing. With all our lives inside AC offices, our bodies have, at least mine has, forgotten what it is to be right under the afternoon sun.

A small rockface before reaching the steps.

A small rockface before reaching the steps.

The route then reaches the base of small rock patch. There are steps cut in the rock patch, but they are just small footholds.

After tackling the rock patch, you reach a wide ledge.

A ledge at the beginning of the steps. The hole dug in the rock face is just at the corner.

A ledge at the beginning of the steps. The hole dug in the rock face is just at the corner.

There is a small square hole dug in the ledge. One can’t understand who would have dug that hole, and why. But it provided welcome respite from the bright sun.

A small hole dug into the rock face. Only shade available to shield from the hot sun.

A small hole dug into the rock face. Only shade available to shield from the hot sun.

The steps leading to the fort. The steps were really high, almost knee high.

The steps leading to the fort. The steps were really high, almost knee high.

And then started the big staircase. There are about 110 steps and most steps are about knee high.

By now, we were already climbing for about an hour and 45 minutes and we were all very tired and thirsty.

The people in the first batch did not stop at the end of the staircase, but went straight ahead to the top. There was still some distance to climb.

There is still some way to the top. While some of us decided to stay back, most people went forward.

There is still some way to the top. While some of us decided to stay back, most people went forward.

However, many from the rearguard, particularly me, and the children wanted to take a break.

Immediately after the steps and passing thru a still well maintained rock gate, we found flat ground with a solitary tree that provided shade. We decided to stop there and have lunch.

The solitary tree providing some shade. We ate our packed lunch under this tree and then rested waiting for the advanced party to return

The solitary tree providing some shade. We ate our packed lunch under this tree and then rested waiting for the advanced party to return

I had forgotten how cool the simple shade under a tree can be!

After the lunch many people decided to go ahead to the top. I along with few others decided to stay back with the kids and take rest. To the parents’ credit, some of them decided to go ahead. I actually took a nap under the tree. After the nap, I, Abhishek and Sameer moved around and took some photographs.

Pali town seen from the top. You can see a game of cricket in progress. Some people choose to play cricket while some to climb a mountain on a hot aftrernoon. :)

Pali town seen from the top. You can see a game of cricket in progress. Some people choose to play cricket while some to climb a mountain on a hot aftrernoon.🙂

The panorama from the level we stopped. Scene from the top must have been even better, but I missed it.

The panorama from the level we stopped. Scene from the top must have been even better, but I missed it.

Taken from the place where we rested, it shows almost the whole route. Notice the complete absence of any tree cover and hence shade.

Taken from the place where we rested, it shows almost the whole route. Notice the complete absence of any tree cover and hence shade.

And around 2.30, everyone returned from the top, and we started going down.

Sunita - Zashichi Rani, with her daughter Tirtha. Sunita was full of energy, carrying her 3.5 year daughter on back when needed.

Sunita – Zashichi Rani, with her daughter Tirtha. Sunita was full of energy, carrying her 3.5 year daughter on back when needed.

Going down proved to be tougher than we had expected. First the staircase, particularly with passing the children below.

Climbing down the stairs. Now in shade, but tougher on the knees.

Climbing down the stairs. Now in shade, but tougher on the knees.

And then the rock face.

Getting down the rock face. Tougher than getting up. Getting the kids down was a challenge.

Getting down the rock face. Tougher than getting up. Getting the kids down was a challenge.

But our experienced trekkers, Shardul, Vikrant, Nilesh, Pradeep, Naru, Abhishek, Aniket, Rahul and everyone else made sure that everyone was down without any incident. A “roady” salute to all of them.

Manish had hurt his foot in the morning. In the excitement of climbing, he didn’t feel the pain. But once we started coming down, the pain and the dehydration started telling on him. Pradeep held him by hand all the way from the rock patch till we reached down.

Manish had a particular tough time getting down with his injured foot and dehydration. Pradeep was with him all the way down

Manish had a particular tough time getting down with his injured foot and dehydration. Pradeep was with him all the way down

We finally had our “lunch” of zunka & bhakar at 5.

On the way back, it was again all song and dance for most people.

All in all a great experience, though a little more excitement on the rock patches than I had expected. Definitely not a trek with kids and definitely not easy so late in the winter.

It also told me how much out of shape I have become and how much I need to work on myself.

This entry was posted in Mountaineering, Travelogue and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Trek to Sarasgad

  1. Pingback: Trek to Sarasgad – Part II | Makarands Musings

  2. bschirato says:

    Wow–great pictures and a wonderful trek! I’m amazed by the children’s ability to handle it (and their parents’ ability as well!). I shared this with my teenage daughter, and my astonishment that the 3 year old children could manage so well, and she remarked, “It just shows how lazy we are”.🙂 Something to ponder–thanks for sharing!

  3. I enjoyed reading it, but I missed the fun. Waiting for next one.

  4. Shefali says:

    Thanks Makarand! For organizing this trek. Looking forward to next one.

  5. Deepam Morparia says:

    Group ka photo tho lagana tha Makhia. Description & photos are good. can i get the link to see some photos from top? ( Where you did not go)

  6. Actually, makarand is exaggerating when he says that we are meeting after 30 years. To be precise, we never met each other during our IIT days and I knew about him only in a vague way, as one of the seniors. But, when we met at the hike it didn’t at all seem that we were meeting for the first time. campus life ki jai ho.

  7. Mike P says:

    wow, i am tired just reading about the trek. thanks for sharing a great day.
    mike p

  8. Aniket Vaydande says:

    Difficulties are things that show a person what they are…😉
    Great Trek… I’m loving it🙂

  9. Narayan says:

    Makarand, get somebody to collate all the photos from various cameras (there must have been at least 8 or more, apart from the mobiles) and post them on picassa
    naru

  10. Nice outing event with a lively description, great read.

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