Sunday, June 3, 2012

Vasota fort the tiger's den

Vasota(Vyaghragad the fort of tiger) 

(Marathi/Devnagari fonts not working in blogger .Will edit blog later using Marathi fonts)

 Vasota/Vyaghragad is situated in Koyna Tiger reserve project of Maharashtra government situated on the other side of the koyna dam backwaters.
Currently as per recently done counting of tigers,the tiger count in this area is around 13,There are lot of leopards,sloth bears and wild buffaloes,wild pigs,jungle grey fowls,variety of snakes,palm civets and lot of variety of birds(you will see variety of sparrows and parrots in this forest)

This is totally a jungle fort with no human settlements in 300 square kilometers.Only wild animals rule this area

How to reach Vasota
From Satara,Reach Bamnoli village which is 40 kms from Satara and 10 kms ahead of Kaas lake.
From Satara,the road to Bamnoli is through mountainous regions full of flora and fauna .If you are lucky,you can even see wild animals in your way from Kaas to Bamnoli.
After reaching Bamnoli,you have to first ask whether permission is obtained or not and then book a boat and then show the reciept to the forest officials.After that they enter your names in their register and give you passes according to the number of people in the trek.
The to and fro boating charges are now 2000 rupees and maximum 12 people can be accommodated in one boat.Permission is 20 rupees per head and some 9 to 10 rupees as some tax which accounts to almost 30 rupees per head.Thus if 12 people are there,the cost per head is 175 rupees whereas if there are less people,the cost of boating increases
In rainy season(15th June to 15th October),no permission is given for vasota trek.

After the permission is recieved ,the forest officials call the boatman ,take his signature and after that we can leave for Vasota by boat.
The formalities for permission takes place in 30 minutes to 1 hour
After that the boat leaves to Vasota and after moving through backwaters through surrounding dense forests,it takes almost 1.5 hours by boat to reach Met-Indavli the base village of Vasota
If you go to Vasota just after rainy season,you dont have to walk too much.The boat drops you till Met-Indavli.In summer season when the water level drops down,you have to walk 30 minutes more to reach Met-Indavli(which was our case)

When you reach Met-Indavli,a huge entrance with "Koyna Abhayaranya Suswagatam" welcomes you with many photos of tigers mentioning "Sahyadri Tiger Project Reserve" welcomes you

From here,there are 3 to 4 houses with 2 people living here You have to show the permission passes here before proceeding.
From here,the thrill of a forest trek starts.Vasota top from here is around 2 hours distance.The forests are very dense such that around 1:00 pm afternoon even,you feel that it might be evening(You cannot make any difference between morning,afternoon and evening in these forests.But night is soon recognized in the forest)

Now the forests get much much denser .The route of forests is well defined hence there is no need of any guide except for old Vasota where permission is not given and route is delibrately blocked by forest officials.
Trekkers can only go to New Vasota and Nageshwar.

While walking through forests,you will be able to feel the existence of many wild animals somewhere near you.many times it happens especially during evening.Many times you will feel some animal running in dense bushes some 20 to 50 feets somewhere near you.
We encountered this situation of wild animals nearby us almost 7 to 8 times in our trek thus it added to the excitement of our trek.(One photo of wild animal we saw is shown below in one photograph.Please see it)

Thus after 1 to 1.5 hours of trek,you come to a point where Vasota is straight route in 30 minutes and towards your right,Nageshwar is 3 kms ahead.Actually there are 2 hills looking same like Nageshwar hence while going to Nageshwar,it creates confusion.But the second hill way ahead is Nageshwar.
From this point,when you walk 20 to 30 minutes , you are into Vasota.

Vasota is having a flat top .East to west is narrow and North to South is very vast and spread.Vasota is having remains of forts,temple and two ruined palaces.
The top of Vasota is covered by dense trees all over and after walking through that,one reaches a fascinating point of Vasota 'Babu Kada' .It is the replica of Konkan Kada of Harishchandragad .

Also there is very thick vegetation on vasota top with useful herbs.Jungli Kadipatta is abundant with hundreds of trees.Its fragrance can be felt from 25 to 30 feets also.I brought it with me.Only 2 leaves of this kadipatta gives tremendous smell to the curry which ordinary curry leaves dont give that smell with a twig of leaves.Taste wise,this jungli curry leaves are very very fantastic.

History of Vasota :

Vasota was built during 9th Century at the time of Bhoja Shilahar dynasty .This fort was never in Mughal rule.Infact Mughals didnt dare to come till this region.
During the rule of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj,this fort was belonging to Chandrarao More of Jawali but later on after his defeat,this fort was into swarajya .
Vasota was considered as a safest option during that time and hence when Samarth Ramdas swami took Samadhi at Sajjangad and after death of Sambhaji Maharaj,Aurangazed came over deccan plateau,The precious things at Sajjangad were kept at Vasota thus it was saved.

Later during Peshwa time.Vasota was ruled by Aundh Pratishthan Raje Pant Pratinidhi..But after the difference between Peshwe and Aundh Sansthan increased,Peshwas attacked Vasota.Fierce fight was led by a lady 'Tai Telin' but finally Vasota went to Peshwas.
From here on,Vasota was used as prison till the britishers captured it around year 1821

Our trek

Our trek started around 11:00 am when we got permission after lot of miscommunications and wastage of time due to that.The boat person said first obtain permission and then book a boat whereas while obtaining permission,the forest officials were saying that we need boat reciept for giving permission.Further the boatman went somewhere and to find another took few time thus doing all these formalities took time and finally around 11:00 am,we left to Vasota by boat.
It was a ride through scenic backwaters covered  by thick forests all over.
After 1.5 hours,we reached a point from where the trek starts.Boat could not go further because water was not very deep enough to kep the boat moving.We told the boatman to come back to pick us till 5:30 pm.
Now we were walking through shores of backwaters and in 30 minutes,we reached the point where we enter into the forest.We showed the permission obtained and started moving ahead.
The forest was very dense and thus it was dark all over.Flies were roaming all over the forest which itself tells the prescense of wild animals like Tigers,Leopards and Bears etc(Because these flies live very near to the flesh eating wild animals.Also these flies were big in size than the ordnary flies found in houses etc)
After all these things,finally,we reached Vasota top in 2 hours.There were remains on fort,temples and ofcourse the fascinating point Babu Kada which has a sheer drop of 800 meters in Konkan.
All this took almost 5:00 pm now.
We remembered that boatman will be coming around 5:30 pm but it was impossible to get there till 5:30 pm.
Hence now we decided that out of 9 people,3 people will walk/run faster and reach the boating point just to stop that boatman and remaining  6 people will also come back 15 to 20 minutes after us

So I,Anirban and Milind started descending Vasota quickly.It was getting darker and we 3 people in dense forests.It was a little bit risky situation because now wild animals were about to come out of their places in short time itself.At 3 points,we felt that some wild animal is following parallel to us in the dense trees.Sometimes,it was going ahead and was trying to intercept our road.But since we were walking fast and almost running down the slopes,the wild animal was afraid of the huge noise created and after that everything was quiet.
After few time,we experienced the same thing but the animal was different because earlier,the animal walking in trees might be a palm civet(udmanjar in marathi) but now we were sure that the animal close to us was a wild pig because this animal was briskly walking on ground and his walking sound on ground and dried leaves was like khur-khur-khur type which is definately of a wild pig.It was supposed to be 10 feets away from us but again when we started walking with heavy stamping our legs on ground,the walking sound of that animal stopped and we proceeded away.
Again just before coming to the forest department office below vasota,we experienced this twice but no animal came in our way.
Weapons with us were 2 knieves and one stick.

In 30 minutes,we descended Vasota completely and now we came out the entrance of Koyna forest tiger reserve
Now we were walking faster to catch the boat.It was already 6:00 pm and we were walking in forests on shores of Koyna lake.Now it was a risky situation because we were only 3 people,with now getting dark all over and now wild animals are on their way to the sources of water.
We saw the boat waiting for us.It was almost 6:00 pm and light was fading.Suddenly we saw group of 4 wild buffaloes(called Raan gava or Raan reda in Marathi) coming near water source but they were 1 km away from us.They started realizing our smell because I clearly saw the bufallo in front their leader ws lifting his head and sniffing in our direction only.
But I dont know what happened.These buffaloes ran away in a flash
In 5 more minutes,we were near our boat.
The rest team also came and around 6:30 pm,finally the boat moved
The other team of 6 behind us saw wild fowls (Raan Kombda in Marathi) while coming on their way

We reached Bamnoli around 8:00 pm .But since it was impossible for us to go back during night because I came by car with 5 people,4 people came on 2 bikes hence it was risky to drive through forests around 9:00 pm.
We stayed in Bamnoli in a temple.We got a small house where 5 people stayed in a room and we 4 people stayed in a temple and next morning around 7:00 am,we departed to Pune to reach till afternoon

Here are the photos

Dense forest on our way to Vasota

Finally Vasota was in our sight.Looking down you can see the backwaters of Koyna .Our boat dropped us at the point far away.You might notice dried up part in backwaters.From Boat point till there,it took 30 minutes for us to come there.Thus after spanning too much distance in Koyna forests,we reached here

Babu Kada a replica of  Harishchandragad Kokan Kada

Fascinating view of Sahyadri ranges from Vasota

Nageshwar Lingi to the front from Vasota

View of Nageshwar Lingi, Mahimandangad , Chakdev, Parvat from Vasota

Remains of palace on Vasota.Now this ruined palace is covered by dense trees all over

Hanuman temple on Vasota

Buruj at the end of Vasota fort on North Side

Old Temple on Vasota

Vasota fort and the Koyna Forest while coming at evening time

Wild Buffaloes/Raan gava They were less than  1 kms on our way to boat .But they ran away immidiately they saw us

From Vasota,through dense


  1. It was very good trekking and new experience. Thanks for Pankaj, for such a guidance.

  2. brother can u give some contact nos frm bamnoli

    nilesh j. malu
    9595 543210 or 9822197797