Thursday, April 19, 2012


You have to know that Sinhagad is to Pune, what pani is to pani puri.

Earlier known as 'Kondhana', the fort was renamed as 'Sinhagad' after Shivaji Maharaj's troops captured it. One of his trusted men - Tanaji Malusare, was killed in the battle, prompting the words, 'We got the fort, but lost the Lion', and hence it was renamed as Sinhagad (Lion-fort) to commemorate Tanaji.


A friend called me up on Friday, wondering if I was interested in a trek to Sinhagad on Monday. I was reclining on the couch, reading 'The Scarlet Letter', as Graham Norton embarrassed the hell out of his guests on the television. I cleared my throat, looked at my calendar and said, "Okay, I guess" (What she didn't need to know was that I was doing the macarena and cartwheels inside...)

We decided to meet up at the Swargate bus station at 5 a.m. and I kissed my DIo goodbye and asked her to be safe as I parked her in the Swargate parking lot. We finally boarded a bus to Sinhagad after a long wait at the stop. I felt like one of those crazy bouncing balls I used to play with when I was a child, as the bus braved on through potholes and irregular speed-brakers

Now, if it had been a normal day, we'd have reached the foothills of Sinhagad without any further ado. But nah, it was torture-Pooja-day, so the bus had to hit a tum-tum and of course, we had to wait till the next bus came. That meant we had to trek in the sun, something we'd tried to avoid (hence the ungodly hour of 5 a.m.)

Two people from our group decided to get a trax that would deposit them to the fort, while the rest of us trekked. And so we started the slow journey upwards with the early morning sun threatening to burn our skins off. Despite the frequent stops for water, I still managed to feel dehydrated. And as soon as we reached mid-way, my phone network bid me goodbye.

We made a halt for a glass of limbu-serbat and chatted up the woman who owned the stall. Just then, Shruti made a statement which confirmed that this was not my day - the trax were not running the route today, so the two ex-trekkers were now stranded at the base of the fort.

Just our luck, I tell you.

Despite that, we plodded on. It was close to 8:30 now, and the sun seemed a bit too harsh than on most days. Rivulets of sweat were streaming down my neck and I closed my eyes and dreamt of a tub full of ice, and cold serbat, and ice cream. Dejected and worried about our friends, we walked the last arduous steps and plonked on the protective wall that lines the road.

Just then, a trax came barelling up the road, with the two girls waving out of the window and laughing at us.

And finally, we reached the fort and threw ourselves under the lush shade of a tree. The rest of the morning was spent in laughter (I heard the most hilarious tales that are making me laugh as I write this) and napping.

We walked over to Kalyan darwaza

and without even realising it, I was singing 'Kadhi tu' (that's the effect movies have on us!)

(as you may have guessed, I'm crazy about this movie...but then again, who isn't?)

Sinhagad = dahi, tak, kanda bhaji, pithla bhakri

So we stuffed ourselves full of kanda bhaji

pithla-bhakri and dahi

And finally, it was time to undertake the downhill journey. The weather was oddly stifling, and the sun beat down upon us.

But my troubles were far from over. I kept slipping. I don't know what was wrong with me, but I slipped over the rocks and the dry soil(awww fuuuu-dhad-dhad-dhad-dhad-dhad-aggga aaai gaaa....)

We were halfway down when it started to rain. The first rain of the year! The smell of wet soil rose in the air and I drooled over it, greedily stuffing it in my lungs and saying 'brain, you better remember this beautiful smell, because ain't never gonna smell anything like it!'

The rest of the trek was quite okay. We reached the bus stop to find that there were twenty minutes to the next bus, and dark clouds gathered overhead, rumbling and thundering like the belly of an instantiated beast.

We boarded the bus, and the clouds kept gathering and when we got down at Swargate the sky had darkened and it looked like it was late in the evening, even though my watch showed ten past five.

Just as we bounded to the parking lot, big drops of rain began to splatter on the road, and within a minute, we were dripping wet. The rain raged and continued and there was hail (oh, yeah) and my journey home was torturous. The hail hit my arms and face with a force that left my skin stinging, and despite taking shade twice, the rains showed no signs of abating. I rode home nevertheless.

 My sister opened the door and stifled a smile. I looked like a drowned rat. Maybe worse.

She made me some coffee. We sat on the terrace, watching the rain fall, and the smell of the soil and coffee intermingled, and then the day was perfect than I had ever hoped it to be.

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