Tuesday, March 27, 2012

An evening at India-Pakistan wagha border

"Tiranga flag, only for one rupees.....Tiranga flag, only for one rupees...." one old sardarji was screaming constantly and trying to sell his flags. he was too old and wrinkles on his face were signifying, lot of rainy seasons he had seen in his life. He was screaming from bottom of his heart and caught my attention. I purchased one flag and made my way through crowd towards stadium with my friend Gautam. "Sir/madam, please give me little place..." everyone was trying to get seat on the stadium. I got little place next to one grandma in first row.

[Swarn Jayanti dwar at wagha border]

Entire stadium was full and everyone was enchanting "Bharat Mata ki jai.... Vande mataram...." slogans and crowds enthusiasm was as high as Everest.
Some guys were standing with big "tiranga flags" in the last row of the stadium. Patriotic songs were played by border police station. border army police were trying to manage crowd so that program will happens properly. "Swarn Jayanti dwar" on the border was standing in high pride. Almost same environment was there on the other side of the gate. Gentle breeze of the air was flowing as if its carrying friendship message from India to Pakistan. Just like everyone I was there to attend evening army parade at wagha-border. This parade happens every evening on the wagha border where army of both nations pays respect to their flags and take them down. Environment was so much patriotic that for a moment, I felt as if "I was part of chale jao movement of freedom fight and was ready to loose my life for my countries independence....." parade was about to begin and one old person came hurriedly, sat next to me and started talking to grandma. he was same sardarji, who had sold flag to me.

[Just at sunset both flags were taken down.]

Army leader came out of police station, gave order to army police for opening the gate. Delhi-Lahore bus went from India to Pakistan. Immediately in 5 minutes, army started their parade. It was really great to see such a disciplined parade of our army. Just on the sunset army police of both nations took flags down and program got finished. Everything was appearing like dream. We got up to move out of stadium. while getting up sardarji grandpa got pushed by me.

I said, "Sorry baba."
"Its ok, you move first", baba answered.

I got in conversation with him because of his charisma and simplicity.
"baba, do you come here everyday to sell the flags?"
"Yes..... from where you have come?"

"I came from Mumbai, It was really nice function. I will never forget it."
"Yes, it is...!!! I am attending it since last so many years....still if I miss it even for single day, I feel something went wrong in my life."

Myself, Gautam, Grandpa and grandma where walking slowly and our conversation was going on.
"Baba, does selling flags is enough for you to get your daily bread and butter?"

baba smiled innocently..."No my child, I hardly earn anything by selling flags.... But selling flags, telling freedom fighting stories to children gives me lot of satisfaction. I try to embed patriotic feelings in small children. Children are future of our nation, I believe that if they are aware of How much we had struggled to get independence then surely they will become good citizen of this country."
I went into deep thoughts after listening to him.
I again asked, "baba, are you teacher?"
"No, I have some farms in nearby area. Whatever I am today is because of this country".. he just opened his heart.

Village people are very innocent and they always talk from bottom of their heart. I was little curious about his statement so asked, "baba, I didn't get you?"

"beta its very old story, we had got freedom and suddenly partition was announced. All the Sikh's of Lahore were asked to move to Amritsar. I lost my family in partition riots. Indian army saved my life. I got place in one of the home in nearby village of border. I started working in their farms. Later on, my love marriage happened with daughter of same house. Till date she is with me".... he said pointing to grandma walking with us.

I could notice smile on grandma's wrinkled face.

baba kept on talking..... "This country has given me everything, such a loving life partner... It had given me new life. so all this work is small contribution from me for the betterment of this country"... tears rolled down his face.

Even my eyes were filled with tears, by this time we had reached to our cab.
"baba, it was really nice to meet you".. I thanked him and opened cab's door.

Cab started moving towards Amritsar but mentally I was still talking with baba, I saluted thousand times to this true patriot.


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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Torana (Prachandagad) fort

Pinnacle club has decided to conquer Torana fort and overnight Trek to was planned to achieve this dream. There are lot of experienced mountaineer soldiers in pinnacle troop but for some or other reason almost for everyone it was not possible to participate in this campaign. "Trek is planned but what to do in this condition? who will cook the food for soldiers?...many questions like this started peeping out..... Courageous leader "Shashi" had already made up his mind to complete this campaign with slightly less experienced soldiers -- Sandy, Pratik, Sanket and Satish.

Shashi was very well determined and didn't wanted to keep any loose end in planning with less experineced team. He himself going to carry all the basic things, novice chef Sandy is going to take responsibility of kitchen with all the required food items at the top of fort and Pratik will carry some supporting required items. Campaign planning done and pinnacle gang started marching towards Pune on Friday night. Saturday early morning troop reached "Velha", a base village in Pune from where climbing was supposed to be started.

[Torana fort at a glance.]

Torana fort also known as "Prachandgad" (Giant fort) was standing in front of us like hermit of Sahyadri hill range who has witnessed glorious period of the great King Shivaji. There were very steep rocks near the top which gives unmatchable strength to fort and kept it invincible. This fort is also known as "home of eagle". During period of King Shivaji, British used to think that only eagle can stay in this fort. How can human climb and go there?..... ah.. climbing is going to be different level of challenge today. At a glance Shashi opened the root, "initial climb would be on highland, then walk on sharp ridge and finally there would be climb on shart and steep rock faces. Lets see How we can make root more simpler. So soldiers are you ready?", said Shashi. We four screamed "Yes........" It was like we got the energy of ten elephants.

[Moving towards fort on the ridge.]

Everyone got sack on and started walking. Shashi was leading and we four were following him. Initial climb over the highland was quite easy and we were climbing quite comfortably while discussing stories of King Shivaji. We felt like we are his soldiers of Shivaji and going to conquer fort from Mughal king Aurangjeb (another king at the time of Shivaji) today. It was bit hot day and we were completely drenched in sweat. Everyone was drinking lot of water. Slowly we crossed highland and sharp ridge, reached at a point where we got bit confused about the path. Leader took the decision. he said "instead of climbing on steep path, lets traverse this rock", we changed the path and started moving. after walk of one hour we realised we are on wrong path. hussssshhhh...!!! Calamity never come alone..... in addition to this, our strong leader Shashi got cramp in calf. ah....... already on wrong path, delayed on our climbing timeline and leader getting injured..... why on earth all difficulties have to come today itself? But Shashi is stout climber. After rest of 10 minutes, he said, "Though there is little pain, I will manage it lets move..." We became Happy. Now we again spent 10 minutes in deciding proper path and started moving. we reached at most difficult part of this route, we were climbing over rock faces with heavy sack without getting roped up. Finally we reached Bini darvaja (Bini door) the main entrance of the fort around 1:45 pm and everyone rejoiced...!!! Entire environment became charismatic with slogans of "Jai Shivaji...!!! Jai Bhavani...!!!"

[Just entered into fort -- Bini darvaja]

But this was just a half victory, we still have to conquer entire fort. We were in need of someone who knows every nook and corner of the fort. At the Bini door itself we met one guy "Santosh" from nearby village. Santosh, slightly dark complexioned, think body, hair oiled and neatly combed. He comes on the fort to sell buttermilk. Oh God... Just for earning hundred rupees a day (which is not even guaranteed) people are taking so much of pain. We still need to do lot of development in rural part of India. We offered him post of our guide for 3-4 hours and he quickly jumped on it. he was our spy who is going unfold all the secrets on this fort. We decided to stay in Mongai temple on the fort. So just went there and had some lunch. Now everyone was tired in need to some rest so we quickly took power nap for 30 minutes and got ready to roam on the fort around 4 pm.

[Climbing down to Jhunjar machi -- snake like structure ahead of us is Jhunjar machi]

We decided to attack jhunjhar machi, an extreme right end of fort. Santosh was opening root for us and we were following him. Jhunjhar machi is completely separate from main part of the fort. You have to do some rock climbing/descending and cross couple of tunnels to go there. while descending on steep rock and single mistake can lead to sharp fall in deep valley. Jhunjhar machi is one of the great example of intellect of King Shivaji, How he used to protect fort from enemies. Even if enemy is attacking the fort and reaching main door, they will struggle so much to conquer Jhunjar machi that mean time our own soldiers will take over the enemies and finish them. We get very clear view of Pune from jhunjar machi. It could have been used as observation point as well.

[Dangerous spot on the way of jhunjar machi -- small mistake and direct fall in deep valley.]

[Happy moments on the Jhunjar machi. ]

Around 5:45pm we returned from jhunjhar machi and we wanted to go "Budala Machi" extreme left end of the fort.
Shashi: Santosh, How much time will it take to go and come back from Budala machi? Hows route? Is it too much dangerous like jhunjar machi?
Santosh: Around 1 and half hour should be enough and yes route is almost same as jhunjar machi?
Shashi: ok. then lets not go now, we will go tomorrow morning.
Sandy: Lets go now itself. We will be able to catch very nice sunset and entire fort will be conquered today itself.
Shashi: Come on guys... we cannot take much risk. If sun sets while coming back then it will be difficult to climb difficult part of rock and we don't have rope as well to get rope up. I don't want to take risk.
Sandy: Shashi, even if sun sets, twilight period have slight light all over the horizon, so it will not be complete darkness. So lets do it today itself. Can we give one more thought to this?
Shashi: Ok.... Great courage gang...lets do it...!!!

[Budala Machi at a glance -- thumb like structure show at the top of the pic is called budala machi]

ah.....yes - no.... finally we decided to go to Budala Machi and started to move. On extreme left side of the fort there is thumb like hill and its called as budala machi. We crossed "Kokan door", from here one can directly go to kokan region of maharashtra via hill route. slowly sun was setting and light was becoming perfect for photography. we got some really nice clicks. Cool breeze flowing and saying keep on walking dude, entire horizon was saffron colour because of sunset, really entire environment was mesmerising. We crossed "tolanjai door" and "radtondi buruj" of the fort and finally reached budala. Everything was appearing like dream. We had forgot time but our leader was conscious. Sun had set and twilight was started. "Come on guys, we need to move fast and reach our temple before it gets really dark..." said Shashi. Now we all came out of dream started walking really fast. Slowly darkness was increasing but we reached temple just in time, before it became fully dark. ah... finally entire fort was conquered...!!!

[Sunset gave lot of nice clicks -- This one I liked the most.]

We were really Happy and celebrating victory but at the same time started feeling hungry as well. Yes, now it was time to set-up kitchen and prepare some food for all the tired soldiers. I just started setting up kitchen, everyone got some task. Sanket, please cut the onion. Pratik and Satish, get the water. Shashi, please lite up the stove. Once everything was ready, I cooked rice and mutter curry for the dinner. not sure it was really testy or not but everyone was so hungry and tired that they felt it was really tasty and Good. Everyone enjoyed candle light dinner to the fullest...!!!

[Candle light dinner in mongai temple.]

After dinner everyone was bit afraid to come out of temple because of stories of spirits on the fort. But Myself and Shashi just came out for a walk. Slowly everyone followed us. It was truly divine night, we enjoyed star watching. Shashi showed us, saptarshi, kritika and mrug nakshtra. We had lot of gossip and finally went inside temple for sleeping. After continuous fight of throughout day, no doubt everyone falls sleep within few seconds.

[Pinnacle gang ready to descend down. L to R => Satish, Shashi, Pratik, Myself, Sanket.]

On second day, Everyone was in deep sleep. Roaring sound of air was disturbing the calmness of that morning. It was around 6am and I got up to take sunrise photos. It was still lot of time for sunrise but I waited and got really nice clicks of sunrise. As sun was rising entire region started appearing golden. It was just awesome scene...!!! After that we just got ready, became fresh. I prepared breakfast of "poha" and started descending down. As usual we collected and carried down as much plastic as we can, it was just small effort from our side to keep fort and ulitmately environment clean..... We had conquered "Torana fort". We had really funtastic trek....Everyone was feeling contended......!!! Jai Shivaji....!!! Jai Bhavani...!!!


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