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Friday, October 22, 2010

A Thrilling experience on fort BAHULA

By : Salil Kulkarni


Maharashtra is blessed with the Forts…Every fort is different in its own way…

Likewise decided to visit an absolute offbeat fort called BAHULA in Nasik region…

Heard a lot about this fort, about its giant structure, the deadly stairway to top, a tiring hike, etc. but the point that amazed and convinced me to climb this fort was the bombarding that happens regularly on the fort walls…

Being in the practice area of Devlali Artillery center, the fort walls are the best target to practice…this practice continues every day except Sunday…hence if one wants to climb the fort, Sunday is the day…

To mention, the Artilery center is 45 kms away from fort and from there the bombarding happens on the fort walls, sometimes the bombs go beyond the fort walls banging in the village at the base of fort hence the villages had been shifted far away from the fort…still sometime if the canon overshoots it targets the villages…

So, keeping this entire in mind and having very less information over the forts as very few have visited this dangerous fort…we two (me and me friend Onkar) planned to visit it…

Saturday night we reached in the base village ( ), as we reached in there many people gathered around us to know what we are doing there…and knowing our idea of visiting the fort, as expected they were amazed to know our plan…and tried to divert us from the plan, as it was dangerous to visit the fort on Sunday as well. As per them the Bombarding was supposed to happen on next day (Sunday) also, due to some extended practice session. But we came the entire long to visit the fort hence as decided we were firm on our decision.

We needed a guide to lead us the way as the fort has very few visitors in a year (including villagers), hence we asked them if anyone can join us tomorrow for the trek!? But no body was ready; hence we decided to go on our own with all risk in mind…

That night we had a halt at the Temple in the village, before going to bed we had a chat with few young boys in the village, as they were excited to know why are we doing this and why we are so eager to visit the fort…and the discussion went on and on for almost 4 hrs. Those boys were happy to discuss with us on various topics (from forts to politics), 2 of them promised us to accompany us to fort and we went to sleep worry-free.

Next day those 2 woke us up at 6.00 am, as promised they were there for us…and took us to their house for breakfast…

After breakfast we were ready for the trek…those both boys had been on fort many times before so we were careless…they gave many instruction about the hike and climb also they didn’t forget to mention about the Bombarding and what to do when it starts…and also about the patrolling jeeps of Army Police which we had to avoid as its illegal to enter the artillery area without their permission…

Keeping all this in mind we started…the first hike was almost 7 kms to the base of fort and that too through shoulder level grass grown in that areas due to no public interference…

We stared early at 7 am, hence were little fearless about the Army Police and Bombarding, as it usually starts at 11 am…

Walking through the dense grass patch for 5 kms was really tough and tiring…but we had to move fast to reach to the base of fort…after around 1 and ½ hrs of walk we reached to the base…the actual trek started from there…the climb was quite steep and exhausting…but we wanted to avoid the Bombarding session so we had to move quick on that too…

From the village side the fort looks like a big horizontal Wall and the Artillery unit is on the opposite side of village on around 45 kms distance (that much distance is required for Bombarding)…

So we started climbing the fort and when we came on the ridge of the fort we could see the Bomb shells scattered all over the place and all the overcooked grass, all happened due to the Bombarding Practice sessions…the other side of the fort facing Artillery unit was all in terrible condition…We could find the bomb shells scattered all over the route…our guides also showed us some Bunkers…made for the people who come for cattle grazing and gets stuck in Bombarding…

We continued towards the fort after an hour of steep climb we reached at the base of the stairs of the…we heard a lot about these stairs…as they are really steep and slippery…climbing up is not as tough, but descending those stairs is a death game…so we climbed those with utmost care and reached to the top…atop fort there are plenty of Water cisterns, bastions intact to fort…but all in ruins now due to continuous bombarding…our friends (guides) showed us a single water cistern with clean water to drink…it was 10 am till then…so we had a quick look at the fort and decided to climb down…but the stairway took almost ½ an hour to descend, as it was sleepery and very dangerous to descend…and we hand almost ½ hour left before the bombarding starts…so we almost started running down the fort…in between we found a live bomb on the way, which was totally intact and almost 60 kg in weight…clicked some photos with it…as it was sheer pleasure to get to see a actually shot bomb…and started our journey back…we were almost 2 kms from the village and one of our guide saw a patrolling jeep (one should avoid these police, as it is crime to enter their field without permission, if they catch you, you have to spend 2 months in their prison and no bail)…so we were in absolute panic what to do…but the shoulder level grass helped us out as we could easily hide in that…we were stuck there for almost ½ hour…we again started when the jeep crossed us and vanished on next turn…but we were unaware that it was an alarm for Bombarding…in next 10 mins we heard the Bomb hitting the Fort wall…and next minute we were running at our maximum speed…last 2 kms distance were crossed by us in only 20 mins…and the bombarding was on in routine…

That way we could experience every bit of thrill heard about the fort…don’t know if we were Fortunate or Lucky…

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