Category Archives: Travels

Road to Raigad Fort

The Idea of Going to Raigad Fort

Have you ever wondered why people choose to do different life-threatening activities like rock climbing, big wave surfing, bull riding, etc.? Does not the risk of death or severe bodily injury seem too dreadful to those who venture into performing those adventures? I have seen people try to get out of their everyday state by doing something as simple as throwing their cycles in the river from a bridge, and if that doesn’t seem to get them out of their blues, they throw themselves from the bridge. 

The risk of death for the people who pursue such daredevil acts (or tomfooleries, if one would call that), I think, is comparatively lower than the risk of death by boredom. When exposed to an uncharted territory, the body and mind adjust to the new environment, which brings some excitement, some setbacks, some unknown to be known, some fear to be conquered.

When life, including mine and that of others, becomes a series of mundane actions, one has to do something and spice it up a little. So, it was quite interesting to hear my colleague Paven suggest a rather adventurous trip to his hometown where a famous fort of great significance was located, namely the Raigad Fort. His suggestion, his excited narration of life in the village and the picture he painted of some mouth-watering food, popti, for instance, intrigued me.

Popti. Courtesy: Pavan

Popti is a special dish made in a pot by adding some well-chosen spices, fresh vegetables, country eggs, chicken, beans, etc. Pavan was going to add fish in it because I don’t eat chicken but relish well-cooked fishes.

Most people who come to Maharashtra primarily live in Mumbai (or Pune) and its suburbs, while they hardly have any idea or seem keen to know about life in the village of Maharashtra. That is an area where I, as much as the people I put the blame on, have to reconsider and improve upon. What also intrigued me was the idea of going up the Raigad Fort, about which I have heard a great deal, and to which politicians and the general mass of Maharashtra (and people interested in the Maratha culture and history) make a point of going.

The Original Plan

Pavan had already put forward the plan of going to his hometown to a few more colleagues (Onkar, Ankit, Siddesh, and Rahul), all of whom seemed equally enthusiastic about the visit. Siddesh’s native, Dapoli, a town by the seaside, happens to be close by. The water around Dapoli beach, I have heard, is pretty clear and clean. So, we made a few alterations and added Dapoli in our itinerary. 

Dapoli Beach
Beachfront at Dapoli. Image courtesy: Siddesh

The plan now was to spend the first day in Raigad, and the next day from morning to late afternoon at Dapoli. On the first day we planned on seeing the Raigad Fort, Pavan’s old house in the village called Shivthar, and in the evening we would go to a cottage (for staying the night), and enjoy relishing popti with whiskey. The plan was thus ready, and we booked the tickets online. 

The Modified Plan

As the day of the visit approached, like all things, the plan seemed to be falling apart. Siddesh had mentioned that he won’t be able to make it (and he had his valid reason for it, so it would be unwise to pick fault with him). Onkar had stated that he had some presentation to do in his college, therefore he won’t be staying for the second day at Dapoli. Seeing this change of plan, I suddenly remembered that I had my own plan on the second day and I decided to drop the plan for the second day to Dapoli, but the plan for the first day (about visiting Pavan’s hometown and the fort) was still on. Pavan added another member (a cousin of his) to the plan.

The Day before Going to Raigad

A few days before the actual day of traveling to a particular place, one’s thoughts often revolve around what essential stuff one has to carry to make the journey a smooth one. 

  • No sunburns, no heartburns: If you have to travel during the daytime and if the day happens to be hot, you should carry something like a packet of sunscreen, a cap, a hat or an umbrella. My wife lent me her sunscreen. She said that if I look any worse than I was, I should be ready for heartburns. Aside from the sunscreen, I took out a cap that was lying cold in some corner of my wardrobe. 
  • Keep the energy high: To keep yourself hydrated and your energy high,  energy drinks can help, and in my case I got a can of Budweiser that was actually an energy drink and had no alcohol. There is a funny incident related to this, and it will be revealed as we progress further in this post. 
  • Eye for eye: If you think you will be helpless without your spectacles, as I think I will be, it is worth carrying an extra pair of spectacles, who knows when the one you are wearing will fall as you suddenly skid, stumble or fall. 
  • The only bank you can own: If you are like me, who clicks 10 photos in five seconds with the phone, consider carrying a power bank to ensure your phone is juiced up, because the chance is high that the phone’s battery would exhaust fast. You can think of some other knickknacks that would be essential in your journey. 
  • Scarf: Covid taught us the importance of wearing masks, but before the popularity of masks, people used their scarves for various purposes. Now the danger of Covid is waning, and so is the usage of masks. But the old scarf is back in action. Scarves can be a lifesaver. On our journey, scarves helped us to block the dust from the road and smoke from the vehicles that crossed us by.

A Brief History of Raigad Fort?

Raigad Fort, also called Rajgad Fort (Royal Fort) lies in the Raigad district of Maharashtra and forms a part of the Western Ghats. 

Raigad Fort

Before being called Raigad Fort, it was known as Rairi Fort, situated in the jungle of Jawali. Chandrarao More ruled the jungle of Jawali. When Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Maratha empire, first saw the fort of Rairi, he was greatly impressed by its formidable height. One way to keep the enemy at bay is to ensure that you have as much advanced ammunition that will last till the enemy has exhausted his own ammunition and surrendered; another way is to choose a strategic location that would naturally hinder the enemy from reaching you. The fort of Rairi provided one such natural advantage.

Shivaji Maharaj tried to form an alliance with the then king of Jawali and expressed his thoughts through correspondence, but the king refused to be a part of Shivaji Maharaj’s notion of a Hindavi Swaraj, and instead offered him insults. Shivaji Maharaj was left with no option but to usurp power from Chandrarao More. After winning the battle with Chandrarao More and taking control of the mountains, Shivaji Maharaj changed the name Rairi to Raigad.

Shivaji Maharaj’s Rajyabhisek (coronation) took place at the Raigad Fort, upon which the suffix Chhatrapati (king of kings) was added to his name. 

As one of the tallest forts in Maharashtra, Raigad Fort offers one a panoramic view of the landscape in the Konkan region. In fact, it is said that many other forts that were under the possession of Shivaji Maharaj could be seen and kept a watch on from the Raigad Fort. Shivaji Maharaj further expanded and fortified the fort with his chief architect, Hiroji Indulkar, and made it one of the strongest forts in the Deccan plateau. During this time, Shivaji Maharaj oversaw the making of numerous ponds and over 300 stone houses. This fort, unlike many other forts in India, has very difficult terrains, and it’s a wonder how the gifted architect Hiroji Indulkar made such magnificent temples, marketplaces, lakes, palaces here.

Shivaji Maharaj made this fort the capital of the Maratha empire in 1674 and the fort remained a stronghold of the Marathas until 1689. Thereafter, the Mughals overpowered the Marathas, captured the fort and changed the name to Islamgad. But it could not be with the Mughals for too long, and came into the possession of the Marathas again. In 1818, the fort became a target of the British East India company who had come to India, and the British mostly destroyed the fort by bombardment. The structure of the fort was made from stone and wood. While wood has gone due to being burnt from bombardment by the British, the stone remains. 

Besides being a great administrator, one can assume, from the way he acquired one after another forts, that Shivaji Maharaj had great fondness for forts. He was born in a fort called Shivnari. At the age of 16, while others could not make up their minds as to what they wanted to do for the day, Shivaji Maharaj had captured his first fort. During his lifetime, over 365 forts came under his possession. At the Raigad Fort, he lived from 1670 to his last breath on 3rd April, 1680. 

The Raigad Fort served as a safe and secure base for the Maratha army, and today it stands as a symbol of Maratha pride, and reminds one of how visionary and great Shivaji Maharaj was.

How Do You Go to Raigad Fort?

Raigad does not have an airport or a railway station, which leaves only one option for the traveler: the road. It is equally convenient to go to Raigad either from Mumbai or Pune. The cheapest mode of going there would be to get in the State Transport (ST) Bus. You can take your own vehicle if you like, but if you are a tourist, you can hire or rent one. 

How Did We Travel?

We followed the following route: Thane, Belapur, Birwadi (Mahad), Raigad Fort.

We went by bus. The colleagues got on the bus at Thane, while I waited for them (and for the bus) at Belapur bus stop, because the bus had to go through Belapur, where I live. 

The time was 12:54 AM. While I stood in the bus depot, I saw other passengers get on the bus and go to their destinations, such as Kolhapur and Satara. The buses for Bangalore, and further down south, have to pass through the same route.

The temperature was 24 degrees Celsius, which was relatively hot for a winter night and during midnight at that. I was sweating and yet had my jacket on, which was in anticipation of the bus that was to come soon and the prospect of the cool air one would be subjected to in the bus in the Konkan region.

Bus Stop at Belapur
Bus Stop at Belapur

After a few minutes, Pavan rings me up and says that the bus is reaching my location now. A bus arrives and I see some of my colleagues’ hands waving at me from the window. It was a surprise to see that the bus was not the infamous ‘lal dabba’, but a rather comfortable one. From what I have heard, traveling in the lal dabba was akin to getting on a roller coaster. On the bus, I met my colleagues and Pavan’s cousin called Amar. Whatever uneasiness I had about the addition of a new person melted away when we actually met Amar, who, I should say, made the journey all the more interesting and lively with his humor and easygoing attitude.

Bus to Mahad, Raigad

From Belapur, the bus leaves around 1:30 AM. The bus makes a few stops for refreshment and bio breaks. The vehicle makes many turns, which makes it impossible for one to sleep. However, when I saw how peacefully my colleague Rahul was sleeping (and for a while Onkar also did) I questioned myself and thought I was not making enough efforts to get some sleep. But everyone is not Rahul, and no matter how hard I tried, I got no sleep at all.

At 5 AM, we got off the bus at a place called Birwadi, which is a small town in Mahad. We walked for a few minutes to Pavan’s house. The moon was still up, and the air was cold. It’s a good thing we got our warm clothes. Some dogs were barking at us, and Amar shouted back at them. As we reached Pavan’s house, we found his cousin and uncle waiting for us.

Morning view at Mahad
Morning view at Mahad

We decided to catch some sleep and a few mattresses and chadars were arranged for us. Sleep came to the others almost as soon as they laid down, while I could not get even a wink of sleep. I could have gotten some sleep, but the collective snoring of the colleagues kept me from doing so. I would have snored as well had I but slept.

A Sunny Morning

Without a wink of sleep in the night,

Surrendering to human snore and mosquito bite,

The time was finally ripe to get the morning view,

And the view was so sunny and the day so new
Pavan’s native house

Upon getting up, I took a small walk to look in and around Pavan’s house. Next to his house was a rather lavish and imposing house, which, Pavan told me, belonged to the son-in-law of the MLA of Mahad. 

MLA’s son-in-law’s house

The sun was up in its glory, which is what I needed in the morning’s coldness (vitamin D was an unintentional bonus, of course).

Pavan’s aunt arranged the water for our usage in the morning. Each of the colleagues took a quick bath. The bath was necessary because on top of the Raigad Fort (to which we were heading in a few minutes) was a temple of lord Shiva and we were going to pay a visit there. They looked at me and seemed surprised that I was not taking a bath. The morning was cold, which discouraged me from bathing. Moreover, I had taken a bath last night before leaving the house. The colleagues sighed and called me an impure person. I was not bothered.

Fresh selfie

We Hit the Road

After having refreshing cups of tea and bowls of poha, prepared by Pavan’s aunt, we move out of the house. Two bikes were arranged while heading out from the house, and then another one was added on our way out. Pavan arranged the bikes well in advance by speaking to his cousin and, I think, a friend. Apart from the fuel charges, we did not have to pay any extra charges for the bikes.

The roads in Mahad are pretty good. The surroundings, as far as I could see, were quite clean. The region is buttressed by the Sahyadri mountain ranges. Two rivers flow through the region, called Savatri and Kal. Savatri is the larger river and Kal meets with Savatri at a certain point. Pavan narrated how most of the portion of his town came under water due to flood water from Savatri.

Savitri River
Savitri River

Metalled, Stony and Dusty

Although the highway at Mahad is good, as you take a turn on the road towards the Fort, most of the road is under construction.

Road to Raigad Fort
Road to Raigad Fort
Road to Raigad Fort
Road to Raigad Fort
Dust rises as the bus passes through us

If anyone intends to travel anywhere, it is advisable that one get the proper gear for the body such as legs and arm guards, helmets. We did not wear helmets, but wearing helmets is important. An untrained rider will have some difficulty in traveling through the roads. As most of the road is under construction, every time another vehicle, in particular when the four wheelers pass through, a great layer of dust rises and fully covers the rider (and the pillion) who comes from the opposite side. It is similar to how one’s situation would have been if one were to participate in a battle of sand and gravel; the enemy has an advantage over you as the enemy is fully armed, and the moment you go anywhere near the enemy, you are fired upon. Taken by surprise, all you see is dust and smoke. We had our handkerchiefs (an important accessory that one should carry while traveling) and we covered our mouth and nose with that. I saw some riders on their Royal Enfield Himalayan bikes (good choice for such roads) and had the proper gear for their bodies.

For the convenience of the homo sapiens, the roads were being broadened, and it was the trees that had to suffer. The mountains of the Konkan region are rugged and stony and seem unshakeable. Making roads in these regions must be very difficult. But humans are ingenious beings and can always find a way, and humans have found a way by inventing heavy machineries. So, here we are, paving our way with the human operated machines, jolting, jerking the peacefully sleeping boulders.

Boulders are pushed aside, making room for the vehicles

The road snakes around the mountain and the vehicle can go considerably up, and the best part: the road around the mountain is in excellent condition, offering one a sigh of relief. As I looked at myself using the phone’s selfie camera, I saw that the color of my hair, which was supposed to be pure black, turned golden, which was a result of dust accumulation from the dusty road. 

Getting down from the bike, I further observed that it was not only the hair, but even the clothes, the spectacles, had a good layer of dust (Amar’s clothes seemed to have attracted the most amount of dust). We moved ahead, shrugging the dust.

Many schools in Maharashtra arrange a tour of the Raigad Fort for their students, and we saw some buses carrying the students. As we went further up, several vehicles lined up, and several people marched to the base of the fort. The fort is a good spot for a one day picnic. Those who are tired of the hustle and bustle of the city can find some solace in the Raigad Fort.

The Base of the Fort

As we reached the base of the fort and got down from the bike, layers of dust had to be wiped from the spectacles. Our body had to be shaken, and the hair dusted.

Once a person reaches the base of the fort, one can find two options to go to the top of the fort: one that is super easy, and one that is very taxing. The easy option is getting to the top of the mountain through the ropeway in less than five minutes, and the difficult option is going by the steps, which, for the untrained legs, could take over two to three hours. The base of the steps and the base of the ropeway are in different locations, about 20 to 25 minutes away. The ticket price of the ropeway per person to and from the fort is Rs. 310, while a single way ticket (either to or from the fort) costs Rs. 190. The timing of the ropeway is from 8 am to 5 pm. 

Ropeway or Steps?

We spent a considerable amount of time discussing whether we should go by the ropeway or by the steps before going to Raigad Fort, but could not come to a final decision. 

When we reached the base of the fort, we were still unsure. Pavan, Rahul, and I walk every day to the office, and on Saturdays and Sundays, I tend to walk about 15000 to 20000 steps. But the fort was a different matter; it was all uphill. We were not very sure of Ankit and Onkar. And, what’s funny, they were not sure of themselves. 

The base of Raigad Fort
The base of Raigad Fort

There were a few small eateries near the base of the fort, which seemed rather tempting, so we decided to go in and eat, for that’s more important than prolonging our discussion on an empty stomach. “While we eat,” we said unanimously, “we can discuss and come to a conclusion”. We ordered vada pav and tea. The vada pav was really delicious, so we ordered one more plate. Then another plate was proposed, but this time, except for two people, most of our stomachs were full, so only the two of them, who still had some appetite, ordered.

Vada Pav and chilies

Food does good not only to the stomach but, it seems, also to the brain, because we were finally clear about going by the steps, which will be a tiring, time-consuming affair, but surely more adventurous than going by the ropeway.

On the Way, Up the Fort

I heard a guide state that there are 2300 steps that lead one from the base to the top of the fort. While many travel bloggers and travel portals state that there are about 1700 steps. The best way to verify this information would be for oneself to count the number of steps as one goes up the fort. I tried doing that, but after counting some steps, I lost count of the number, which gave me a chance to focus on the scenic view instead. 

The climb up the fort is a truly arduous activity, in particular when your normal physical activity is limited to walking from one room to another or just taking a stroll. The ordeal became evident from the faces of Onkar and Ankit, who now, from their body language, seemed unsure if they had it in them to go up further. It seemed they were going to suggest that it was better to choose the ropeway, but we had already come to about 250 steps, and now going by the steps means undoing the effort of going up so many steps. With the will to do, and some encouragement from others, humans can surprise themselves with what they can do. Every time Onkar and Ankit went up a little, their efforts were appreciated, and they were encouraged. With every word of encouragement, they found a reason to move their way up.

Difficulty of going up increases

On the way up, one can find small shops where one can take a little rest under the shade of the shops, have something to drink such as cold lemon juice (which we did) and keep yourself hydrated. 

Shops on the way
Lemon juice

We made a mistake by going to the fort in the afternoon when the sun was blazing, so there was more sweating, more need to quench our trust than would have been if we had made the move to the fort early in the morning.

Some portions of the way are plain surfaces, walking on which is easier. Instead of walls, one can see iron railings in that portion.

Plain path

Some steps are smaller than the rest and are highly elevated, which makes one tired easily.

While on the way, some portions of giant rocks protrude out.

The higher up we went, the better the view became.

View from Raigad Fort
Photo courtesy: Ankit

What to See at Raigad Fort?

The question should not be so much about what you can see at Raigad Fort, but it should be about what you can see from Raigad Fort. While what you can see at Raigad is surely historical and important, what you can see from Raigad will be one of a kind of experience that you will always remember. Nonetheless, here are a few things we saw while we were going up to the top of the fort. 

Maha Darwaja

One would not know that in the middle of the steps leading to the top of the fort, there is a Maha Darwaja or Great Door. It has two bastions and serves as the main entrance point of the fort. The Maha Darwaja seems solid and imposing, and seems as robust as it always was. In the past, guards were always present to keep a check on who was entering the fort and who was going out. Today as well, guards are present, but they are unarmed and their main job is collecting entrance fees from the tourist.

Maha Darwaja at Raigad Fort
We pose for a photo in front of the Maha Darwaja

The Maha Darwaja has a smaller door within the larger door, which was made to let individuals pass through. While the large door was opened only when the going and coming involved riding on horsebacks or when the royal ladies had to be brought on the palanquin.

A small door within the large door
A small door within the large door

Affixed to the door are many pointed spearlike rods which kept elephants from damaging the door. In the past, elephants were used to break into big doors which proved too much for the humans. 

If, by any chance, the enemy manages to get past the Maha Darwaja, the puzzling curve in the steps and walls would have made it difficult for the enemies to move ahead, because while the enemies could not have seen what was above them, but who were above could see the enemies, and they could easily drop boiling hot oils on the enemies, forcing them to step back.

While we sat for a while on the steps in front of the Maha Darwaja, posing for photos, Amar spoke to almost every tourist and everyone seemed to entertain him. Amar approached one person and asked him what he did for a living. The person said that he was an English teacher. Amar suddenly pointed his finger at me and said to the men, “He is Ramu Das, from north-east, and only understands English and no other language. Let’s have some English sessions.” I smiled. The English teacher smiled. Amar laughed.

Hatti Talav
Hatti Talav

Hatti Talav

As we kept walking, we came across a pond called Hatti Talav (elephant tank), which had very little water. A description board near the talav states that the talav has suffered from water leakage issues and work was going on to make it leakage proof. This talav was used for elephants’ bathing. How did elephants come to such an elevated hilltop where humans had such difficulty getting to? You might wonder. This question puzzled others as well. The answer is that Shivaji Maharaj had brought baby elephants when the elephants had puny physiques.

Shirkai Devi Temple

As we move further up, we come across a small temple called Shirkai Devi Temple. Shirkai Devi is a village deity and a fierce form of goddess Shakti.

Shirkai Devi Temple
Shirkai Devi Temple

We Reach the Top

While coming up to the fort, and seeing what an arduous thing it was to do, I wondered who in their right minds would ever think of invading this hill. Yet several powers and empires made repeated attempts to capture it. The British, who were frustrated by the might of the Marathas, resorted to bombarding it, leaving ruins behind them.

The fatigue and physical discomfort on the way up suddenly vanished a few minutes after reaching the top. The challenge of getting up the stairs finally borne fruit. The fort is one of a kind and provides a panoramic view of the picturesque landscape, and this, and the material treasure that was in the fort, was the reason many powers and empires made their attempts to take the fort.

Holi Cha Mal

This is a spacious site where the annual Holi festival used to take place. I have heard that the burning of Holika used to be an occasion of fun activity in which a coconut would be thrown on fire, and as it burnt, it had to be pulled out by the bare hands. Whoever pulled the coconut out of the fire was rewarded with a gold ring.

Near Holi Cha Mal is a statue of Shivaji Maharaj sitting on his throne on a pedestal.

Holi Cha Mal
Holi Cha Mal

Bazar Peth

Next to Holi Cha Mal, opposite the statue, is the Bazar Peth (market place). The Bazar Peth is a long line of raised concrete blocks in two columns. There are 22 shops on each side. The shops were made on high plinths and had inward steps which enabled the soldiers on horses and the women on the palanquin to shop without getting down. The inward steps allowed more space for the horses to move. However, some refute the claim that these were actually shops; they say that these were resting places for the soldiers.

Bazar Peth
Bazar Peth
Shops of the Maratha empire
Shops of the Maratha empire

Jagdishwara Temple

As we keep moving from the Bazar Peth towards the Jagdishwara Temple, to the left at some distance, we see a spot called Takmak Tok (more about this in a while) where many people were heading to. We decided we will go to Takmak Tak while coming back from the Jagdishwara Temple and the Samadhi of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, an adherent of the Hindu faith, ordered the construction of the temple and it is said that he visited the temple every day. The temple, like the markets, lakes, pillars, and the palaces, among many other things, was built by Hiroji Indulkar.

Jagdishwara Temple
Jagdishwara Temple

The exterior of the temple resembles a mosque and has six minarets. Some say that the resemblance to a mosque was a deliberate attempt to protect it from Aurangzeb and his force or similar forces who intended to wipe out the Hindu culture, overthrow the Maratha empire and dominate the length and breadth of the Deccan Plateau, and that of Hindustan. The appearance of a mosque would have halted such people from attacking the temple. Some, on the other hand, say that Shivaji Maharaj was influenced by the Islamic scholars and the temple was constructed to look like a mosque to depict the unity between the Hindus and the Muslims.  

In front of the temple is a statue of a mouthless Nandi (the bull of lord Shiva).


As we entered the temple, we saw a group of people chanting ‘Om’ and doing yoga. Without disturbing them, we silently went inside the sanctum, knelled down before the Shiv linga.

Shiv linga
Shiv linga

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Samadhi

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Samadhi
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Samadhi

The Samadhi (memorial) is situated on a high platform opposite the Jagdishwara Temple. The site is considered to be sacred and is visited by thousands of people every year to pay their respects to the great warrior king. This is the area where the Maharaj’s last rites were performed. There were many people here, and it was difficult to get a proper picture of the Samadhi because of the flow of people.

Statue of Waghya

Statue of Waghya
Statue of Waghya

If you know me, you would know how much I love animals, especially dogs, so when I heard about the story of Waghya, my sentiment for dogs got an added booster. It is said that the dog was a constant companion of Shivaji Maharaj in his military campaigns and was known for his bravery and loyalty. Legend has it that the dog proved its loyalty to the last breath, and when the Maharaj’s pyre was burning, the dog jumped to the fire and sacrificed itself, following his master into the afterlife.

Takmak Tok

 Takmak Tok
Takmak Tok

After seeing the temple, the Samadhi and the statue of Waghya, we make a return towards the Bazar Peth, but on the way we had to go to a very infamous site called Takmak Tok (I just love the sound of those two words, and find myself repeating them). Takmak Tok (punishing point) is a cliff, and it was used for throwing traitors and criminals down to thier death. “Takmak”, a Marathi friend told me, means “blood-stained”.

Before going to Takmak Tok, we took a short rest under the shade of a shop. Pavan, Rahul and I were done resting, but Onkar, Ankit, and Amar took some more rest. While the three of them were resting, Pavan, Rahul and I went up to a small hill to locate Takmak Tok. When we saw it, we tried to go closer to find the way that leads to it, but as we went ahead, we lost sight of it. We went several steps away from the trio, and they could not see us, nor could we see them as the view was blocked by some rocks and some wild plants.

“Where is it?” asked Pavan.

“You would know better,” I said. Pavan and Rahul had already been to the fort a few times before.

We were unsuccessful in locating Takmak Tok. It seemed to be just here, but now it was gone. We went back to where Onkar, Ankit, and Amar were sitting, but they were gone from there. Now, our task had increased, as we not only had to locate the way to Takmak Tok but also find the colleagues who were gone missing. Rahul began calling out, ‘Ankit, Ankit!’

Finally, as we were still unsure of the way to Takmak Tok, we asked a shopkeeper, and she showed us the direction. We stood on a hill and saw Ankit, Amar and Onkar almost reaching the cliff.

They have found what we were looking for, so it was us who were lost, and not them. Amar was speaking aloud from a good distance (about 700 to 800 feet away) and we heard him clearly. He was telling us: “Not this direction, come from the other direction.” We did, and we reached Takmak Tok. While at one point, people would have dreaded the name Takmak Tok, and it would have painted a gory picture, but today it is a wonderful tourist spot that offers a breathtaking view of the landscape.

Nagarkhana Darwaja

The Nagarkhana Darwaja looks somewhat similar to the Gate of India (but the Nagarkhana Darwaja came much before the gateway of India did, so, if there is any connection, then it has to be said that the architect of the Gateway of India took inspiration from the Nagarkhana Darwaja, and not the other way round).

Nagarkhana Darwaj
Nagarkhana Darwaj

The Nagarkhana Darwaja is the entrance to the King’s Court or Raj Durbar. As one goes straight about 200 feet from the Nagarkhana Darwaja, one sees the throne of Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj, which is a replica of the original. The original golden throne, which was studded with precious stones, is lost, but to whom, where, when, remains a mystery.

Throne of Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj
Throne of Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj
Throne of Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj
Throne of Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj

One very interesting feature of the King’s Court is that when one makes a small sound, like a whisper, the sound can be heard from the throne. A demonstration of this was given to the tourist. A guide whispered “Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj ki” from the Nagarkhana Darwaja, and over 200 feet away near the throne, the tourist, among whom we were included, answered back with a loud “Jay”. Then the guide said that he was going to tear a paper and if we could hear the tearing of the paper, we should clap our hands for Hiroji Indulkar, the one because of whom the magnificent durbar had this acoustic sound quality. We heard the tearing sound, and we clapped our hands.

Nagarkhana Darwaja, and over 200 feet away, throne

Nearby, we come across a rectangular plinth, and to the right of that is where Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is believed to have taken his last breath.

Queen’s Palace (Bed Room)

The Queen’s Palace has six rooms for the six queens of Shivaji Maharaj (he had married 8 women in total, the reason for which was more than just love for the women; it was love for his kingdom which he wanted to strengthen and extend, to curtail any rebellion against his kingdom, and to get support of the people from different regions). Designed to provide the queen with privacy and comfort, the rooms are very large and have attached toilets.

Queen's Palace
Queen’s Palace
Bedroom in one of the chambers for the Queens

The Watch Tower

The Watch Tower, most of which is in ruins today, was an important part of the fort’s defense system and played a crucial role in warning the fort’s occupants of any approaching enemy attacks. It was also used to send signals to other watchtowers in the region and to communicate with other forts in the Maratha Empire.

Watch Tower

Granaries: These are three underground chambers used to store large quantities of food and other supplies to support the fort’s inhabitants during times of war or famine. I have heard that the granaries were used by the Peshwas, after the death of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, to jail the traitors and criminals for 7 days. On the eighth day, if the traitor/criminal did not confess to the crime, he/she used to be thrown down from Takmak Tok.

Other Attractions We Missed Seeing

There were a few more attractions at the Raigad Fort which we missed seeing because of the shortage of time. The places we missed are equally interesting and have thier own stories. For instance, there is a chamber for secret discussion, which is eleven steps underground. Many confidential discussions used to happen there.

There was a Mint room that was used for manufacturing coins which were used as currency in the empire and facilitated trade and commerce.

The story of Hirkani Buruj is in awe-inspiring. Hirkani was a milkmaid and lived in a village at the foothills of Raigad Fort. One day, Hirkani found herself trapped on top of the fort as the gates of the fort were closed after sunset. She had gone to the fort to sell milk and had lost track of time. She had an infant child that had to be taken care of, and she imagined the worst might happen to her infant if she did not get home. She then climbed down the steep cliff of the fort using a rope and made it back to her village safely. Her bravery and determination earned her the respect and admiration of Shivaji Maharaj, who built a tower in her honor called Hirkani Buruj. The tower stands at the spot where Hirkani is believed to have descended from the cliff.

As we were going down by a door, which I think was the Mena Darwaja, I saw a few boys desperately asking a celebrity to click some photographs with them. The celebrity happened to be someone who came with us: Amar.

Some by Ropeway Car, Some by the Steps

Some of my colleagues had become more tired than the others, and they decided to go by the ropeway. Aside from tiredness, the prospect of experiencing the ropeway was enticing. As far as I was concerned, I considered coming up to the fort through the steps was a difficult and time-consuming task, which is when the need for the ropeway is higher; while going down, the downward slope would not be very difficult and would not take as long as it took to come upwards. For that reason, I decided to go by the steps. We went along to the ropeway station to drop some of the colleagues off. We saw a huge number of people sitting there, waiting for their turn to get in the ropeway cable car. It looked very crowded and would have taken more than half an hour when the colleague’s turn would come to get in the cable car. We had to be on time to board the bus that was leaving from Mahad for Thane. I tried telling Onkar that we might miss the bus if he waits for the ropeway car. He had enough of walking for the day, and he was okay to miss the bus if that was the case, but he won’t walk anymore. Thus Onkar, Ankit and Amar went down by the ropeway car, while Pavan, Rahul and I went down by the steps.

While getting down the steps we had to increase our pace (to reach on time and board the bus), and with one stride we moved two to three steps forward (but such a thing is not recommended to others, for if you lose control and trip, you will roll down several steps and cause grave injury to yourself). Many a time, we simply had to jump a few steps ahead because of the pulling effect of the downward slope of the hill.

We grew tired. Suddenly, Pavan remembered that I had a can of energy drink, which I had completely forgotten. I unzipped my bag, opened the can and was about to drink when I saw Pavan made his eyes wide open and seemed to be shocked.

“Any problem?” I asked.

“How can you bring such a thing here?”

“What thing?” I ask, confused.

“This beer,” he says, and seems disappointed. I explained that it was a non-alcoholic drink meant to provide instant energy like Redbull. He was sceptical.

“Well,” I said, “go ahead, try some.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is budweiser-malt-energy-drink-1-sdl512137440-2-55a5e.jpg

He drank a little, kept quiet, and passed the can to Rahul. Rahul drank. They both claimed that it tasted very much like Budweiser beer. That is true; the taste is quite similar. Some energy drinks like Monster, Hurricane, taste like some cough syrup, but the energy drink from Budweiser tastes like the beer they sell.

Pavan gave me a lecture on how people would not know the difference between a Budweiser alcoholic can and a Budweiser non-alcoholic can, as there was hardly any difference in the way both the cans looked. Before the people can understand the difference, Pavan said, they will first raise their hands, and later try to know if there is any real difference between the alcoholic and non-alcoholic cans. But I have paid for it, so brushing his warnings aside, I finished the content of the can.

We finally reach the foothills of the fort (and we did that in just 40 minutes) and met the colleagues who had come by the ropeway car. Once again we had to hit the road, move past the metalled, dusty road. I hop on to the bike that Rahul rides, and for a small man (in terms of physique), he managed the bike very well and rode fast (almost like a professional rider). We reached the Mahad bus depot, from which Onkar and I were leaving for home, almost half an hour ahead of the scheduled time. The bus was late by half an hour. This time the bus, an AC one with more legroom, was even better than the bus by which we came to Mahad. 

Although I haven’t had the chance to visit exactly where my friend wanted me to go, considering the paucity of time. We made a few miscalculations and thought it would be possible to cover the places that we had intended to. But part of the blame for this miscalculation also lies in the fact that the Raigad Fort is so vast that it will hardly be possible to visit it as well as the other places in the short time we had given ourselves. An individual who hails from that area mentioned that one would require at least two days to explore the fort properly and appreciate all that was at the Raigad Fort, and I concur.

If you have come this far, you may also find the following interesting:

Copyright © 2023 RAMU DAS

My Travels This Year (2017)

Among all the resolutions I had made at the starting of this year, one was to travel to as many places as I could. Travel, as you know, expands one’s mental horizon. When you travel, whether you like it or not, you would come across new people and new happenings, which would add to your experience. If you are a writer who has been suffering from writer’s block, travel, do, and see how people throw their stories at you.

My country, India, is vast and I have always had the desire to see all the states of India. If one visits the different parts of India (from the most modern to the remotest), perhaps he/she would not need to see a foreign country, because within India one would come across so many things that would seem foreign. The weather in some parts of our country vary from the weather in the other, when the temperature soars above 35 degree in Mumbai or above 40 degree in Delhi, the temperature at Dras in J&K or at Gurudongmar in Sikkim can be in the minus, and in some other parts the temperature would be moderate. The people in one part speak a different language and have their unique identity and their special cuisines, while the people in the other part display a different lifestyle and set of values.

I do harbour a desire to see some foreign lands too, and that I want to do without any discrimination, which, in other words, means that I really wish to see the underdeveloped as well as the developed and the developing countries of the world. First and foremost, however, comes my own country; once I have covered all of India, perhaps, I can think about visiting some foreign countries.

At the starting of the year I had gone with some of my colleagues to the beach side destination in Maharashtra called Kihim.

In March I intended to go to the North of India, especially to cover the golden triangle. The Golden Triangle, not to be confused with the Golden Temple in Amritsar (Punjab), includes three places in North India, namely, Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, and the three locations seem to form the shape of a triangle, thus the name ‘triangle’ was given to it. The three locations are a very popular destinations among the foreigners as well as the domestic tourists. Due to some reasons, I had to change my plan and I ended up doing a solo trip to the south of India (covering Chennai, Pondicherry, Bangalore and Mysore).

Thereafter, I had gone to Guwahati and Barak Valley in Assam, Dimapur in Nagaland (though Kohima was also in the itinerary especially because it happened to be the Hornbill Festival time) where I had spent a considerable amount of time during my childhood.

Last of all, in December, my family and I had gone to the following North Indian destinations: Delhi (the land of great politics and power), Gurugram (Gurgaon) in Haryana (where my younger brother stays), Haridwar and Rishikesh in Uttarakhand (considered holy sites), Agra (where the Taj Mahal is at), Mathura and Gokul (again two holy sites) in Uttar Pradesh.

I will write about the aforementioned places in greater detail by and by.

If I had more money and if my leave from office could be extended a little more, I would have heartily visited many other places (or revisited some).

Copyright © 2017 RAMU DAS


A Long Paragraph From A Short Story

In the night we had the drinks in our room (Kranti’s and mine became the common room). Narayan was not feeling well and he said he would rest for a while in his room. Bosco had brought playing cards and he was ready to teach me and Kranti how to play (innocent as we were in the game of cards), provided we staked our money. Bosco has great love for America but this time it was Kranti who wanted to play in American Dollar, and we had to acquiesce to his demand. We played Teen Paati (the real game for the real gamblers, called Flush or Flash in English). It was my wish to play that game although I had scant knowledge of it. I wanted to know how this game is played, and perhaps be a master at it, because it is this game that robbed my father of all his fortune and made him a pauper, thereby degrading our family’s stature. Bosco taught us the rule of the game and we began playing. The game, it seemed, purely depended on luck, and my luck was no better than my father’s. I lost all my money but to keep the game going on (for I still hoped that I would make some money, or compensate for the losses at least) I resorted to borrowing. At first I borrowed from Bosco. “How much?” asked Bosco with a smile (he was only too happy to lend me, it seemed; but the real reason for his happiness was because I was going to repay the loan with hefty interest). I lost again, but I still had some guts and I borrowed again. I decided I would continue playing as long as Bosco was lending me his never-ending money. My luck favoured me once and I earned some, repaid a little to Bosco and I told him that I would pay the remaining very soon. But, again I lost and again I had to borrow. Now with the principle and the interest I owed a total of $1300 to Bosco. Now Bosco seemed uneasy about lending me anymore, he feared that his loan would turn out to be a bad loan. Now the only other alternative I had was to borrow from Kranti. Kranti did give me some bucks (but he was cautious and gave me only a few Dollars) and he charged a rate of interest almost double the rate Bosco charged me (cruel, no?). But, all the same, I needed money, and needed it desperately. Again I lost the money I borrowed from Kranti. All together now I owed $800 to Kranti. In short, I was broke and ruined! But, patient and gracious reader, shall I tell you a good news? I don’t owe any real money to anybody. We considered another card called UNO (heard of it?) as our American Dollar and that was what kept us going! So, after all, it was not a real game for the real gamblers (if it were, neither would Bosco nor would Kranti had given me a single cent) and I took no foolish step like my father did. Now, lovely reader, bemoan no more but make merry!


The story is rather a long one, not a lengthy one though (mind you) and I thought it was too long to be a blog post, hence only a paragraph (the longest one, and I know it seems daunting) is made available here. To read the full story, please click here

Copyright © 2017 RAMU DAS

Travel Made Difficult

If life is at stake, it is best to avoid risk. Therefore, when I got an SMS from IndiGo airlines (a private Indian airline) which informed me that my flight (6E – 3645) was delayed, I did not complain. But I would have been happy had they informed me the reason for the delay. Later, just out of curiosity, when I inquired about it, I got to know that fog was responsible for the delay. Fog affects the visibility of the pilot, so they would not fly in this condition. That was quite all right. It is better to save our lives than to put it at risk. No one wants to die. I was also told that as soon as the visibility was clear, the flight would depart. The otherwise sparsely crowded airport in Guwahati (namely Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport) was fully packed today, and people were still coming in. The flight was scheduled to depart from Guwahati at 3:10 PM and arrive in Delhi at 6:20 PM. The departure time was revised to 3:55 PM. Then it was further revised to 5:10 PM. Another revision: 5:55 PM. Yet another revision: 6:30 PM. The flight finally departed a few minutes after 6:30 PM.

While I was getting the SMSs of the revision of the departure time of my flight, there was another flight that was getting delayed. I was receiving SMSs for that as well. I had a connecting IndiGo flight from Delhi to Mumbai (6E 665). The actual departure time of my flight from Delhi was 9:30 PM and it was supposed to reach Mumbai at 11:35 PM. The revised departure time for the Mumbai bound flight was 11:30 PM. It was again revised to midnight. Further revision: 1 AM. One more revision: 1:30 AM. One final revision: 12:30 AM. But the flight actually departed at 2 AM and reached Mumbai at 4 AM.

I had booked my tickets two months back. It is with some considerations, some thoughts that I did so. I made some plans about the things I wanted to do. Now that I was not going to reach my place in time, all my plans were ruined. But, yet, I did not complain. I was only sad. However, other passengers in Delhi were furious. I saw a young girl, an old woman, a middle-aged man, complain about the inconvenience caused to them by the airline. Some wanted immediate compensation, refund, replacement, etc. Delhiites are vocal about their rights, it seemed. Some of the customers, to be properly heard and informed well, even entered the customer care representative’s cabin and shouted, which I thought was uncivil. No proper information was, however, given to the customers. I saw a customer service officer argue and disrespect few customers. I am not sure how true the logic that customers are always right is, but in the present situation the customers did have a right to protest and seek a reliable answer. I think the representative was new to work and needed more time to learn. There were other representatives who seemed to understand what the customers had to say and they tried their best to be good and be of service.

After reaching Mumbai, I was trying to get my bag at the baggage conveyor belt. My bag could not be seen. But still I hoped that my bag would come. Alas, it never did. I went to the Indigo baggage counter and told a lady there that my bag was missing. I was given a document to file my complaint. The document was called Property Irregularity Report. The lady asked me to provide the description of my bag. I told her it was a blue coloured duffle bag. “Which brand is it?” She asked. “Skybag,” I answered. The lady at the baggage counter kept the original copy of the report and handed me the xerox copy.

I was not the only person who had lost his bag, there were two others also. One was a girl and the other a man. The girl came from Delhi and had to write an exam in Mumbai. Her exam hall ticket and a few other important documents were in the bag she had lost. She said she had a medium size bag. The man, accompanied by his wife, on the other hand, had lost two bags (one large-sized and one small). The girl who was to write her exam a few hours from now was bewildered and angry. She kept asking the lady at the baggage counter to give her bag immediately. She was not easy to pacify, after all she had an important exam to write and only she could know what she was going through. The lady at the baggage counter said, “Give me some time, let me see if your bag is at the Delhi airport.” When the girl asked the lady how much time she needed. The lady answered that she needed two hours. “Two hours!” The girl said in disbelief. “You need two hours just to tell me if my bag is at the Delhi airport! I wonder how much time it will take for you to actually handover the bag to me.” The lady at the baggage counter ignored her and this infuriated the girl further. “Look,” the girl said, “I don’t have much time. I need my bag now!” This prompted the lady to immediately call the people at Delhi to find out the whereabouts of the girl’s and of mine and of the other person’s bags. The lady confirmed that my bag was still lying in foggy Delhi, but she could not say anything about the girl’s bag and that of the man’s (and this gave the girl more reason to foam at the mouth and wail, but the man still remained calm, perhaps he did not have an exam to write few hours from now).

I asked the lady at the baggage counter when could I get my bag back. The lady said that my bag would come in the next flight from Delhi which departs at 6:30 AM and reaches Mumbai by 8:30 AM. It was 4:30 AM at that time. If I had to wait for the arrival of the next flight, I had to wait for another four hours. Already the flight was delayed by so many hours and the wait for another four hours seemed only to add insult to injury. I was exhausted. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to go home. I asked the lady at the baggage counter if it was necessary for me to stay back or was it possible if I go home and come back to the airport after sometime. But, as it turned out, I would not be allowed to get in the airport once I got out of it, unless, of course, I was travelling by an airplane from Mumbai. But the lady offered me an alternative: she said that I could go home and someone from IndiGo would bring my bag at my residence. I asked her how long will that process take. She said that the bag would be brought to me soon. I said how soon. She said very soon. I said how very soon. She emphasised, “very, very soon, sir!” I was, however, not sure how long that would take, for “very, very soon” may have a different connotation for her and a different connotation for me. I had a few stuff in the bag that were of immediate need. I could not make up my mind whether to go home or to wait. Seeing my confusion, the other man who had also lost his bag suggested that I should go home and take rest. I called up my girlfriend and she was also of the same opinion. I, therefore, decided to go home. I told the lady that I was going home and I asked her to send the bag to my residence. She said she would do so and she had given me a note where she had mentioned a number which I could dial to know the status of my bag.

I came home. Set the alarm of my phone for 8:30 AM (for that was the arrival time of the next IndiGo flight from Delhi to Mumbai) and went to sleep. My phone rang at 8:30 AM and gave me a start. I was drowsy and wanted to sleep more, but it was important for me to get up and get active. I dialled the number that the lady at the baggage counter of IndiGo gave me. This was the number: 7045591805. It was busy on another call. I tried again but it was still busy on another call. I tried after half an hour but it was still busy. I tried after another half an hour. This time it rang and immediately a smile came to my face, but as soon as the smile came to my face it also faded. The person whom I called disconnected the line after two rings. I was absolutely disappointed. I dialled the number again but now the number was not reachable. I tried to find the customer service number of IndiGo from the internet. I came across many numbers, tried one. After listening to an automated machine for a few minutes, the line finally got connected to a human voice. The person speaking to me on the other end announced that his name was Mukesh. He tried to listen to me however, perhaps from habit, could not help but interrupt me every time. Suddenly, without even telling me anything, he put my call on hold and vanished. I held on the phone for 15 minutes and finally gave up. All this only increased the already heightened level of anxiety in me.

I once again tried calling on 7045591805 many more times but it was either busy or, when it rang, someone disconnected the line, or, now a new problem, it was switched off. I tried the customer service number once again. I had to wait for five minutes before finally getting connected to a customer service representative. A female spoke. I told her what had happened and she offered to help me. She gave me two contact numbers and said that my queries would be answered to my satisfaction if I called on those numbers, but, as it turned out, those did not concern the department I had to get in touch with. They catered only to international flights. I only wasted my money and time by trying to get my queries solved. Then I tried finding more numbers on the internet, and got connected to a few. One department after the other said that it was a different department that was answerable to me. Their peculiar way of evading their responsibility irked me. I expected them to provide me solutions instead of excuses, and they miserably failed. I would have been better off if I had traveled by a train instead of an aeroplane. That way I could have saved my money and energy and would not have gone through all this unwanted problems and frustrations. Though I have travelled by plane many times, but the experience I had this time was the worst so far. Now I would think twice, gauge all other good possibilities, before travelling by a plane. The whole day I was restless, but the day was over, and the next day followed.

The next day was a Sunday and I had to go to the University of Mumbai where I am doing a part time course on Human Rights, and the airport of Mumbai is not very far from the university, so I decided to drop by the airport after attending my lectures to know the status of my bag (though, of course, I had to incur the cost of going there). But, I was lucky, a man called me up and informed me that he was looking for my flat in order to deliver my bag to me. I was relieved and very happy when I heard that. I told him that I was away from my flat but he could hand my bag over to my neighbour next door. He said he would do that.

After reaching my building, the first thing I did was visit my neighbour’s flat, get hold of my bag and examine it thoroughly for any damage or for anything that went missing. The strap was torn, but other than that there were no damages, the bag was still locked (as I did after packing all the stuff), and the key of the lock was in the side packet of the bag (as I kept it, and only I knew it). Everything inside the bag was well intact. Happy though I am after getting my bag but my thoughts reach out to those who miss a great opportunity in their lives (like the girl I mentioned above who might have missed appearing at an important exam she had prepared for) and those whose valuable is damaged/pilfered due to the flippant attitude and irresponsibility of some authority (like that of IndiGo).

Copyright © 2016 RAMU DAS

Sexy Goa: Dazzling Beaches, Wine and Bikinis

It was 4.30 in the morning when the alarm of my phone started giving me a tough time. And I had to bear with Eminem’s socially inappropriate lyrics, for it had been my phone’s alarm tone. I was reluctant to wake up. It was a cold morning. Everything was still. I shut Eminem up by pressing the snooze option of the phone. I pulled the blanket over my head, squeezed and curled myself in the bed, and was off to dreamland.

At 5 o’clock the phone rang once again. I wanted to snooze it like I did a little while ago, and like I do every day until it stops ringing, but this time it was a different music, not the alarm tone by any chance. I halfheartedly opened my eyes, stretched my hands, and with the right hand I picked up the phone and glancing at it I saw Aravind’s name flash on it.

Aravind is a very good friend of mine. Although he looks aged with his bulging belly and the stiff mustache, but internally he is quite immature and very innocent. He proves his immaturity very often by doing things which a man of his age never does. Some people find him a bit pestering, but I like him. He has always been very good to me.

“Wake up, wake up,” says Aravind Krishna.

I pressed the accept button to speak. He yelled out of sheer excitement, just like a kid: “Goa… Goa, Goa!” Then he paused for a moment gasping heavily, and then he spoke again, his sentences ending before he could complete them: “The girls… wearing bikinis… resort, dazzling beaches… wake up! Wake up!”

Realization hit me hard like a stone to a glass, we were supposed to go to Goa today, “Ah, quite so,” I said.

As a rule set my Mumbai University, all the Management Students must go on an industrial visit. I suppose, to make us aware about our future responsibilities, or to let us know how we are supposed to struggle for money. It was the teachers’ duty to take care of that, that is to say, to organize industrial visits for the students every year.

The last two years I could not make it to any of the industrial tour because I was not interested, moreover, I had no time for it. But this time I was determined not to miss this opportunity. This is my final year in the college, and if I missed it I would suffer from a void feeling which might as well torture my conscience as I grow older. I’ve never been to Goa. I wanted to see what Goa was like. So I paid Rs. 4000 (like everyone did) for the same and decided to go to Goa.

Aravind was waiting for me in his car. I hurried up, and briskly and noiselessly got into the car. “I’m here.” Soon we reached Panvel station from where all the students were supposed to get on board of a train – Jan Shatabdi had been the train’s name – at 6.00 a.m. I met other friends, and the three lecturers (all women) who accompanied us, or who were suppose to keep an eye on us, in case someone led us astray. Ha!

We kept waiting for the train. As it always happens, the train moved forward, rattling inch by inch quite leisurely at OUR timing – the Indian timing, and finally came to a halt. It was late by half-an-hour. The shrilling of its engine wasn’t at all inviting.

The friends’ parents came to the station to see the friends off. These followed thereon: embracing, shaking hands, wiping tears from the eyes… as if they were bidding goodbye for a long time or maybe forever. The tour was just for 4 days, and nothing more. Overflowing affection, ha!

I was looking for my seat as I got into the train, and when I was able to find it out, I saw an elderly man sitting on it. “Sir, I believe, you’re sitting on my chair,” I said. He was least bothered. I raised my voice, and then he said it was his seat. “How could that be possible?” I questioned.

“Very,” he replied laconically.

“Very?” I found myself repeating his word, but only interrogatively. A little argument followed. I summoned the TC and discovered that the elderly man was speaking the truth. I felt embarrassed before the elderly man, the TC, and other passengers. I foamed at the mouth. I had to stand for half an hour in the train; some of my friends did the same.

I went to the lecturers with my complaint. I kept stuttering for sometime before speaking plainly. Yes, when I get very angry, or very excited, I stutter. Let me say it once again, I st-tu-tut-tut-tut-stut-ter.

One of the lecturers arranged a seat for me, and slowly all the other students were able to sit down comfortably. But I wanted to know why there was the confusion regarding the seat. We did pay the money then why should there be any problem at all? When asked, the lecturers had no idea why it was so; there was no answer for me. Perhaps, the agent of People2Place (who provided us the travel service) made a mistake. Anyhow, I was able to sit and relax, my anger melted, and I had no more problems and no more questions.

The Foggy Morning
The Foggy Morning

The train jerked and rattled, picked up speed, and along we moved on. I tried to register everything in my mind through the view from the window. But, alas, it was a misty December morning, and it made my visibility unclear. No doubt it looked beautiful. Sometimes neon signs flicked through as the train made its way, and I was curious to know what was beneath the foggy atmosphere: Perhaps homes, mountains, a bazaar, animals, or such other things.

I decided to read a book, the best way to eat up time, but the friends wouldn’t let me. They (the boys) inherited the girls’ hormone. They kept on talking tirelessly and continuously. Some guys had a voice as melodious as Justin Bieber, and I could make little difference as to who was the guy and who the gal.

We reached Goa and checked-in to our resort. A very beautiful resort it was, with greenery all-around, a swanky swimming pool that was made more appealing by the alluring golden-haired, brown-eyed girls swimming and dancing in it. A friend of mine exclaimed: “This is it!” I gave him a puzzled look, and he explained, “Besides the beaches and the wine, I wanted to see this and nothing more.” He pointed his fingers towards the women in bikinis swimming in the pool, and towards another who was reclining on her rocking chair, smoking, exhaling circles of smoke, and reading a book at the same time. “Ah, it seems like a movie. This is exactly how they look in the movies. Oh my god, I feel like a star!” He said, expressing mirth. The other friends laughed back at him, not with him, mind you.

We freshened up and learnt that we were going to a very famous and the finest beach in Goa called Baga beach. The boys wore shorts, so did the girls. But the girls invited some criticisms from the lecturers for doing so. My friends disapproved of the lecturers’ gesture. A guy said, “What problem do the teachers have with the students? They never want to see us happy. This is only time we get to see some skin, and … “

Baga beach
Baga beach

A lecturer approached towards him making a strange face, and he thought it best to shut up and stay mum. I knew what he was trying to convey. But he meant it only for fun without having any bad intention. Nevertheless, the girls adhered to their dressing style; after all, they were going to a beach and not to a church or a temple.

We went to Baga beach, swam to our heart’s content. A friend, upon seeing a bikini-clad foreigner, wanted to click a photo with her. But she refused. The friend looked a little disappointed and brokenhearted, we couldn’t help but laugh and laugh, and laugh a little more.

Now, that's a good laugh!
Now, that’s a good laugh!

A lady friend lost her camera somewhere in the beach or in the shops nearby, and started crying. Girls of our college always cry no matter what, “I won’t go back home if I don’t get the camera,” she said. All the other girls started crying as well, as if the camera was a lifesaving drug for them. The lecturers told us to help her find the camera, it happened to be a very expensive one. We went to find it, and luckily we found it. It was in a shop, the shopkeeper was a morally upright, very kindhearted and noble man (such persons are very scarce today, aren’t they?) and returned the camera back to its rightful owner. We thanked him and were off to our resort.

Dancing to the DJ's tune
Dancing to the DJ’s tune

Then, we danced to the tunes of the Disc jockey in the swimming pool as dusk set in; it was especially organized for us. After that we had a hearty dinner.At the crack of midnight we retired to our beds.

During the night I could not sleep properly because of a friend’s snoring who slept beside me. The whole night he kept on torturing me by producing strange sounds: grarrrrr… graaaaaaarrrrrr… grrrrarr….graarrrrrrr… This followed in the same fashion till the remaining days in Goa. I told him to change his sleeping position hoping to see some changes in his breathing. He changed his position, but it was of no avail. I felt like defenestrating him, but thought the better of it.

In the next day, we went to another world-famous dazzling beach –Calangute beach– in north Goa for water sports. These are the sports we enjoyed: Banana boat ride, Bumper ride (the force of the water did a good bum massage), Para-sailing (we paid extra for extra pleasure), Jet Ski (I rode, by paying extra, of course). In the night we went boat cruising. ‘Coral Queen’ had been the cruiser’s name. Some cultural dances were displayed on it. We watched and loved it.

The next day we went to Coca Cola Company, that’s the main reason for which we were in Goa. An instructor demonstrated us the functioning of the machines and all other stuff related to the production of beverage. At first I thought the instructor was not an instructor but a security guard. His dressing style was overly simple. But when he started speaking in fluent English, and started explaining us everything about the manufacturing process, I found him a very knowledgeable, genial, and modest person. Oh, and he wore a big smile every time he spoke.

Then we proceeded towards old Goa and visited BIG FOOT Cross Museum which is a centre for preservation and promotion of Art, Culture and Environment. Then we visited the historical church of St. Francis Xavier, and an archaeological museum nearby.

St. Francis Xavier Church, Old Goa
St. Francis Xavier Church, Old Goa

The next day we visited Fort Aguada. After that we were on our way back to Aamchi Mumbai.

I must say, Goa, with its mighty Sea, good-natured people, and its proximity to other huge cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, is really attractive, enticing, and fascinating.

Fort Aguada
Fort Aguada

There is something soothing about Goa. For a writer, it’s the best place to live. The surroundings are quite, serene and peaceful. Goa, I’m sure, would alleviate your mental agony, and make you feel that life is worth living.

Thus, we concluded our journey; it was a thrilling experience, at least for me. Now, as I finish writing this, I am missing Goa a lot.

P.S.: I could have written a lot more, but as it is, it already looks very daunting. I don’t want to bore my readers, and definitely my blog is not a book.

Copyright © 2012 RAMU DAS