Friday, May 01, 2009

Short Trek to Bagwada

By HARPREET KAUR

Ever traveled a fare distance out of Mumbai, and come across ruins spread across small hills or in villages with oddly familiar and historical names. Well, there are many such places all over India, all having links to the glorious past. One such place is Bagwada – the name may not sound familiar but it used to be called Arjungad.

This is a small station on the Western Railway grid, a mere 20 minutes before Valsad. All slow trains will stop along and you can get off for a day of short trek and exploration at this village.

The village stands close to the rail tracks while the fort of Bagwada is atop the only hill in the village. A small fort for a small hi1l, the hill is barren in the summers but during the rains it is covered in green. But in summer you will find it covered in dry grass nd a mere ten-minute climb up the hill.

Also called Shri Kshetra or Arjungad, for this is where Krishna is said to have kidnapped Rukmani and Arjun kidnapped Subhadra. But it is popularly known as Bagwada.

Arabs came in the seventh century and Mahmud of Ghazani made inroads into the country through his raids up to Bagwada. Hindu power was weakening, with king Bimbisara of Mahim attacking Daman, Tarapur, Surat and other places in Gujarat. In the meantime Kumarpal Solanki had made Navasari a battlefield and killed Mallikarjun the Silhara king near Valsad.

In the thirteenth century the Koli and Warli chiefs came over to rule the place. One was from the Deccan with Mahadeo Kolis and established his rule over 22 forts in this area. They were left alone to rule throughout the seventeenth century. These forts were taken over by Mahmud Begada only after the tribal started troubling and looting the people around.

Shivaji visited this fort and had asked Chimnaji Appa to develop it. It was under the Marathas till the Portuguese rulers took over. They mounted attacks from this fort on the fort of Vasai. Secret passages inside the fort are said to have connected it to the fort of Pali, Indragad, Karambeli and Parnera.

The climb from the north side takes ten minutes to reach the bastions. Completely in ruins the fort entrance is on the north east side. A rectangular fort, it has six bastions and is in ruins. The south wall is broken and near it is a small tank which has a drinkable water here, close by runs the Kolak River flowing to the south of the fort now just a stream. The fort has a Mahalaxmi temple; its statue is now in a new temple in the village below. There are two small caves in the fort and also a tunnel and where does it lead no one can say. Not much to see here except the fort walls, bastions and a view of the village and river from the fort. It must have been a good viewpoint for the guardians and soldiers of the fort. There are more temples in the village with a few of them having a short history connected to them.

A quiet way to spend a couple of hours, you do not need equipment but a good pair of shoes to climb the short hill and enjoy the picnic lunch or tea that you have brought along.

How to get There:

By road: From Pardi on the National Highway from Mumbai, go towards the Bagwada railway station and close by is the hill with the fort.

By rail: get into any slow train traveling to Valsad or Surat but get off at the Bagwada station that comes before Valsad. The hill and fort are just hop skip and jump from the station and can be seen clearly.

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