Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Forts of Konkan 26 : Kille Vasota किल्ले वासोटा

Met Indavali, Tal. Dist. Satara or off Choravane, Tal. Chiplun, Dist. Ratnagiri or off Tivare, Tal. Chiplun, Dist. Ratnagiri
Altitude 1200 m.

Things to see:
Vasota fort is surrounded by thick forest of Koyna sanctuary on all the sides. It has breathtaking views of straight rock faces of Sahyadri and valleys and rivers surrounding this region. The way towards the fort is also through dense forests teeming with wild life such as wild buffaloes, leopards and wild bears. The fort has remnants of some old residential buildings made in stone, fort walls and some bastions. There are also some water cisterns on the fort. The fort top is also covered by thick vegetation at many places. There is a temple of Goddess Chandkai. The fort top provides views of Konkan region on the western side and one can also see the sea and the creeks sometimes from the western end called Kalkaiche Thane. Near Vasota fort, a rocky hill higher than Old Vasota is situated. A deep gorge line by straight rock face called Babu Kada separates old and new Vasota fort. There is nothing on old Vasota except some loose stone structures. However the old Vasota hill is full of Jamun trees and provides a view of Vasota fort. Nageshwar Hill which is in the same range of Vasota but on its Western End has one cave which has a Shiva temple. There is one old stone sculpture of Shiva and Parvati in this cave.

The fort has also been known as Vyaghragad in the history. The fort was first built by King Bhoj II of Shilahar dynasty from Kolhapur in 12th century. It then came first under control of Shirke and then More family of Javali valley. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj took this fort under his control in the year 1660. He used this fort to keep the arrested sea pirates roaming near Konkan coast for some time. Two British officers who were arrested during taking over of Rajapur port were also kept here. During the Peshava rule, a war took place between Peshavas of Pune and princely state of Pant Pratinidhi of Aundh (near Satara) for the control of the fort. The fort could not be won due to the thick forest around the fort. After 10 months of fight, Peshava forces lead of Bapu Gokhale first took control of hill called Old Vasota which neighbours the Vasota fort and is located on a higher ground. Afterwards it was easy to gun down the forces on Vasota. Stories of bravery of Tai Telin, a woman who was mistress of Pant Pratinidhi and lead the forces of Pant Pratinidhi, are famous. The same strategy was used later by British for gaining control of the fort and also the royal family of Satara in the year 1818 .

The fort is part of the Koyna wild life sanctuary and the entry into the fort requires permits of forest department. It is not allowed to stay and cook your food in the sanctuary area so one needs to take packed foods while going to the fort. The original entrance to the fort is in ruins and the way to it has been washed out. The entrance which is presently used is carved out of stone. Due to presence of dangerous wild life in the forest, it is strongly recommended to go in the group of at least 4 people to the fort. One also needs to take care to cover the body as there is danger of leeches especially during monsoon.

Nearby attractions:
Koyna backwaters, Tapola

How to reach:
Stay and travel permits from Forest Department are compulsory to reach Vasota via Bamnoli. They can be obtained from Forest office at Bamnoli and it also includes tent accomodation charges. Separate boats needs to be booked for reaching the base village of Met Indavali. Food arrangements can be done only at Bamnoli and one needs to take packed food.
By your own vehicle:
Follow the route as given below to reach,
Mumbai/ Pune/ Goa/ Kolhapur
Bamnoli (Park your vehicles. Boat ride for two hours and further trek for 2 hours)
Mumbai/ Goa
Tivare (Trek via Tiave Pass Maldev Rede Khind. Total time required is 5 hours)
Choravane (Trek via Nageshwar takes about 5 hours. The route is tough and recommended only for experienced mountain trekkers).
For trekking routes coming from Chiplun the local guidance is very necessary. No water availability on the routes coming from Tivare and Choravane. Stock of water is essential.

By public transport:
Reach Bamnoli by ST bus from Satara. Then follow the boat ride and the route guidelines as given above. Chiplun can be reached by direct ST buses from Mumbai, Goa, Kolhapur and Pune. Tivare and Choravne are connected by ST buses to Chiplun, follow further routes as given in the above table.

Nearby Places for stay:
Chiplun, Bamnoli (Tent accomodation provided by forest department)