UNESCO tag sought for caves, forts in Lonavla through run

UNESCO tag sought for caves, forts in Lonavla through run

In a first-of-its-kind of initiative that integrates nature, heritage, tourism, health and social work a major walk would be held on 10 December at the famous hill station of Lonavla, in which over 10,000 people are going to participate.

Lonavla near Pune is a storyteller's paradise.

One of the major goals is to create awareness about Bhaje, Karla and Bedse caves besides Lohagad and Visapur forts at Lonavla in Pune district and seek UNESCO heritage tag for them.

Social Action for Manpower Creation (SAMPARC), which since 1990 has been working for the rehabilitation, care and educational development of orphan children, children of socially victim women and all other needy, poor and disadvantaged children, is planning the event.

"The walk has multiple aimsit would create awareness," said Shailesh Parte, Project Manager, SAMPARC. In 2016, it started off in a small way -when nearly 3,000 people participated, but in 2017 the crowd is going to swell to 10,000 plus.

"India is a pictorial kaleidoscope of beautiful landscapes and rich cultural heritage spread throughout it's opulent historical and royal cities that have been contributed by different people and races over the period of time. Culture and heritage play an important role in building an economically sustainable and cohesive country and need a special focus for promotion and preservation," he said.

The walk will begin from the sprawling green foothills of Bhaje caves. Bhaje is a group of 22 rock-cut caves dating back to 2nd century BC located near Lonavla. Protected by the Archeological Survey of India as a National Monument, it belongs to the Hinayana Buddhist Sect. At an altitude of 200 metres, one can witness a lush waterfall with water plunging into the foothills. Then the walk will lead a climb to Lohgad Fort, which is 3800 feet above sea level.

Lohgad was one of the prominent hillforts of the Maratha Empire. For a short period, it was taken over by the Mughals. The hill extends to the northwest to a fortified spur, called Vinchukata (Scorpion's Tail) because of its shape, which resembles a Scorpion's tail. The beauty of the fort comes alive during monsoon when it is covered with mist and clouds.

The walk will cover 3.6 km with Lohgad being the highest point of the heritage walk. With the Fort to your right, you can see the gushing waters of Pavana Dam on the left. The enthralling view of archaeology tucked into natures abode will take you to another level of reality.

"The unique walking tour presents you a rare glance into the rich history and culture of Maharashtra, an enthralling experience of the historical sites enveloped in nature will take you back in time. From history to architecture, food to culture - the participant will know the story of western Maharashtra come alive," Parte added.

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