from Left to Right Nitesh,Shweta,Aashish,Utkarsha and Rohit)(Amit and Pritesh behind the Camera)
It was decided that we will catch late night train from Dadar. In our case it was the Dadar-Sainagar Shirdi express. The train was scheduled to start at 9.45pm therefore I requested everyone to be early at Dadar as we have to catch seat in an unreserved compartment but to my dismay no one turned up at Dadar. My panic button got activated which in turn ensured that my fingers were running all over the dial pad of my mobile “ Abbe Kider hai Tu” “Arre woh aa raha hai kya ki nahi” …etc etc. Despite so much commotion and frenzy I managed to hold the seats using whatever tools of encroachment available to me viz. Newspaper,Bag,handkerchief and a fellow passenger( Yeah I roped him too so that he can keep his bag too !!! for holding the seat of our friends who were very kind enough to inform me that they were going to board the train from Thane !! Till the time train left Dadar Station I was sweating out that these encroached seats do not get occupied.( Being a Mumbaikar we learn all these tricks by default.Thanks to our local train experiences).Once our train reached Thane station I almost craned my neck out of the window to ensure that Nitesh,Pritesh,Shweata,utkarsha don’t miss me ( I was by choice sitting at the emergency window the one which do not have grilled section ). Luckily everyone made to the seats and I heaved a sigh of relief and said to myself Mission Accomplished.
|Benefits of Emergency Window of Unreserved Compartment|
Such train journeys are always exciting because everyone has so many stories to tell, so many experiences to share that the 5-6 hrs journey passes away just like a wink of an eye. It was 2.15 am when we reached Manmad Station.
Night at Manmad Station:
Abb 2.15 am ho ya per public ko photo mangta hai… so out everyone jumped and did their part of posing.
|Photo session at 2 am at Manmad staion|
In the meanwhile Amit and myself we went out to check what should be the next mode of transport to reach Ankai Village. We had a talk with the TC at the platform who failed to understand as to what we will attain by climbing Ankai Fort. He advised us not to set out for Ankai at night because it may not be safe especially girls were also with us. Similarly the Guy at the Tea stall too said don’t go at night take a connecting passenger train in the morning or go by auto.Me and Utkarsha we went outside the Station, where we took stroll in the streets of Manmad I cannot describe to you the pleasure of just idle walking in a sleepy town( I think the time must be 3.00am) later we enquired regarding auto fare and were shocked to know that the auto guy were asking for 300 bucks for 3 passenger( and let me tell you that Ankai Village is hardly 8-9 kms away ). Another guy quoted 200 Rupees but Trekkers toh Trekker hote he so we decided to take early morning passenger train to Ankai which costed us just 5 Rupees.The passenger train arrived at 5.10 am and took an eternity to leave Manmad Station.This delay ensured that we all had another photo session.
Bechare Diesel engine ko bhi nahi choda , Sab Diesel per chadkar photo le rahe the aur bechara engine ka driver was looking at us as if we are a nut case. But we Weekend Wanderers aise hi hai…Full on full masti bhare
|Diesel Engine ko bi nahi Choda|
The train journey took hardly 10 mins and we were on the Ankai Station.Per yeah kya boss ..Platform kider hai..lolz the platform is so small that it a BEST bus stop can put it to shame.
I am calling it a station because I saw a station master and a Lantern guy( Horror filmwala).The daylight was yet to breakout so we were careful while crossing the railway trek.We asked the Station Master for direction but to our dismay he dropped a bomb on us Arre asli wala nahi ..I mean literally when he said aap log galat station per utar gaye ho ..you guys should have got down at Ankai Quila and not Ankai.
There was pin drop silence ,Sab ke chehre dekhne wale the, I could feel the WTF feeling because at this wee hours stranded at an unknown station…Bas sab ke maan me ek hi sawaal tha…… ab kya. But let me tell you we trekkers thrive on these kind of situation because they serve our taste(Travel) buds. We then spoke to that Lantern Guy , he said that we will have to walk atleast 4 kms to reach Ankai Village , Now this was a good news ..4 kms we said thank you chalne hi toh aaye hai and saying this we all started walking back toward the Manmad side with the Ankai Fort perched on the right hand side of the treks.
|Walking along the railway line with Ankai-tankai Towering on our right side|
We kept walking along the railway treks and just before we reached a small bridge we diverted towards the right side ,towards the Ankai Village. In 15 -20 mins we were at the Base of ankai-Tankai Fort.
|The Village Well and Ankai Fort on left and Tankai Fort on the right side can be see.|
It’s a small village.There was shop in the village where one can buy chips etc. We filled up our bottles with water from the Village well and started our trek. One can clearly see the Jain caves from the well , a little walk further towards the right side will lead you to the steps of this Twin Fort.
|Just when you start trek we can clearly see the Jain caves|
The Trek Begins:
Once taking the right from the village well we come across stone stairs which actually is the start point of this trek. We took the steps and on our way passed a deserted dargah
|Deserted Dargah on the way|
Walking further for hardly 5 mins we were at the jain caves. These caves were two storied ( I am seeing this kind of caves for the first time). The caves had some excellent carvings , statues etc
|Two storied Jain Caves|
but honestly didn’t looked like maintained.( though there was a placard of archaeological department) Villagers were washing clothes at the water tank. Inside the caves also one can see litters thrown around.
In it’s full glory these caves must be a marvel. How I wish we can save our heritage. We rested for a while here and small photo session
|Mini Photo session|
From these Caves we took further steps toward the Ankai Fort.
|The Stone steps continues from the Jain Caves to the Fort Gate|
This trek is very good for a beginner because there are these stone stairs through the trek which makes climbing very easy. As we kept walking on the steps shown above we could see the Giant gate of the fort from below.
|One gets the clear view of Fortification from the stairs|
There is lots of Fortification still left . There is a large Door through which we make an entry into the fort , thereafter there are series of doors ( must be 6-7 in numbers) and spiraling stairs.
|Large Fort Gate through which we enter Ankai Fort.|
Upon entering the fort we come across a plateau within the Fort .we see a fort wall with shelter space.
|Fort wall with the shelter space|
From this place, one can either take left turn and continue walking within the Ankai fort or can take right turn and move toward the Tankai Plateau. We opted to finish with the Ankai Fort.There are rock cut steps which leads to the next level of fort
|Rock cut steps which leads to the next level of fort|
|Series of Gates|
From here we enter through 2nd gate and then series of gates ( must be 6-7 in numbers) and spiraling stairs.On the fort there are again caves, there are 3-4 caves , again in very pathetic condition.
|Large Caves on the Fort|
Caves with lots of carved deities,( How I wish they could restored)
|Carved Idols in the fort’s Caves|
|Carved Idols in the fort’s Caves|
Walking from here and climbing further we come across a small temple( I never understood what God it was)
A little climb further take us to the Top gate from where we reach a section which has a mosque kind of construction.
|Abandoned Mosque like Structure|
Standing at the top we can see the Gigantic plateau of Tankai. This whole exploration hardly took 45mins and we were on our way back.
|View of Tankai Plateau from Ankai Fort.|
As everyone was very hungry so we decided to have our lunch on the stairs of the fort as the Arc above it provided shade.
|Lunch under the shade of this Arc|
Food and Jitters on the staircase of Ankai Fort:
We were are very terrified and just stood as statues along the inner wall of fort. Pura scene me comedy bhi thi aur tragedy bhi thi , Tragedy is liye kyo ki hum ko laga ab kuch bhi ho sakta hai boss, because we were aware that monkeys here are very notorious so either he can attack us to get the food or scare us. Lekin uske baad ka scene yaad karta hut oh soch kar bhi hasi aati hai. Ek Raja ke darbar me jaise sipahi puri attention me khade hote hai waise hi hum log stairs ki dono aur bina saans liye full concentration se khade the, andhar full tension aur udhar se monkey sahib steps se neeche ek Raje ki tarah utarte hai ,give a dirty stare to each of us and slowly step by step walks down without a care in the world. Aur stairs ki end me jakar he turns back, we all froze again in tension,( Pin drop silence) The monkey watches us all for a second and coolly walks off. Boss kuch der ke liye sab hil gaye the baad me toh we kept laughing like as if there is no tomorrow.After getting down we again reach a common section and from here there are stone cut stairs which leads to the Tankai Plateau.
On reaching the top there was not much to explore except a small structure which turned out to be shiva temple.
|Shiva Temple on the Tankai Plateau|
and few water tanks.
|Dry Water Tank|
However the view from the top is mesmerizing specially the ankai top, and the mountain range behind it Goraknath Fort and Hadbi chi shendi.
|Ankai fort, Goraknath and far behind Hadbi chi shendi as seen from Tankai Top|
One can see lovely fields and the highway running across, even the train passing through this vast expanse of land looks very beautiful.As we had started the trek very early therefore we managed to finish it quickly and reached the base village at our targeted time of 11.30 am, because we wanted to catch afternoon train from Manmad.
|Side view of Ankai enroute to highway|
The sun was hitting hard, but yet the whole group was cheerful and within no time we came across the railway line which we crossed over and reached the highway.We all squatted under the tree to catch the first available transport.
|Squatted under the tree|
There are few ST buses passing from there, luckily for us an open tempo was picking villagers we too jumped into the tempo and had hawadar journey singing songs ,clicking pics and making jokes and within no time we reached Manmad.
|Hawadar Journey in open Tempo|
We had lunch outside the Manmad station, Boarded the first train , fighting the sea of people we managed to get into the train. We all got the place to sit at nasik till that time it was balle balle at the door.It was 7.00pm when we touched Dadar. All in all it was a fantastic trek with some great friends.