You cannot say that you have been to Pune without visiting Sinhagad. It is very famous and it is easy to identify because of its distinctive profile. You can either drive up the mountain and explore the fort or like the locals, trek up. The trail is well-defined with few alternative routes. It is 2.7 km which seems small but has an elevation of 600m.
My father and I decided to climb Sinhagad when I visited Pune during Diwali. We started at 7 am which we thought was early but turned out not to be the case. It took us an hour to drive to the base of the fort. The mountain was covered with greenery with different types of trees as we went higher. We started to climb the mountain with full energy and enthusiasm but as time went by the sun came up and it got hotter and dustier.
My dad and I had wonderful conversations about school and studies on the way up. It usually takes 45-50 minutes for a fit person to climb this mountain but we were so out of shape that it took us 3 hours. Even though we started early, a lot of people were done and heading downward as we climbed. We encountered a few people repeating the trek! These people were very encouraging and made sure that I didn’t give up; As we climbed higher and higher it got steeper and hotter.
I would periodically look down at the base and see that it was getting smaller and smaller. Once it was out of sight, I looked up at the fort getting closer and closer. This motivated me as well. Throughout the trail and in the fort there were locals from the village selling “jhunka – bhakar” which is the local “poor man’s food” but has become a Sinhagad specialty. Bhajji and raw mango were also available. We struggled to climb up with just our water bottles, these villagers climbed daily with all of their supplies.
After we reached the fort we spent some time admiring the architecture, the views, historical remains, and memorials. We decided to go back after it started to get crowded. I thought the trek downhill would be a lot faster and easier, but it was not, it was worse because it was hotter and dustier and because it was steep and downhill the chances of falling were higher.
When we reached our car, my dad and I laughed at each other because we were really red and sunburnt. We were so tired that we didn’t get out of bed for a week.
The experience itself and the trek was great but there are many things that I learned as well. The next time, I will go earlier to beat the crowd and avoid the heat and carry sunscreen of course!
In the morning it was calm and soothing because there weren’t a lot of people, we could hear the susurrus of the leaves, birds chirping, and in some places water flowing. But when people showed up, they played music which defeated the purpose of being outdoors and enjoying nature. Throughout the trail we could see litter everywhere, plastic bottles, bags, wrappers, etc. Why do we treat our shared resources so poorly? Why can’t we take better care of our heritage?
Finally, I realized that not only do I have to improve my physical conditioning, but undertaking a trek such as this also requires a lot of mental strength.