Agile : How to work in an Onsite-Offshore Model?

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Agile software development and the breed of agile methodologies (XP, SCRUM, DSDM, etc.) have gained popularity since 2001. Agile methodologies were primarily founded for software projects executed at a single location. Today, with many adopters and practitioners across the globe, agile methodologies are showing promising results in multi-site projects too. Offshore delivery models have been successful in application maintenance and enhancement projects for more than two decades. In the case of development projects, iterative lifecycle approaches are more widespread and acceptable than the classical waterfall approach in delivering results and ensuring customer satisfaction. Distributed agile software development involves software projects done by agile teams located across geographies.

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Agile process is finding more and more acceptability among Corporations. This process is ideally suited for major IT implementation projects running for long duration. The major problem in such projects is that the entire Requirement or the entire scope of the project is not known at the initiation phase, and hence the project is divided into iterations or Sprints.

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Each Sprint is usually of a fixed duration for ex: 2 weeks, and more importantly, the work done in a Sprint has to be complete by itself and has to be demonstrated to the stakeholders, with a working piece of software. One of the fundamental tenets of any agile software methodology is the importance of communication between the various people involved in software development. As the agile manifesto states “The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.” Extreme Programming emphasizes this with its practice of a single open development space where the team can work closely together. Cockburn’s book spends a lot of time talking about the importance of physical proximity in agile methods.

Distributed agile is the application of agile methodologies such as XP, Scrum, DSDM or any other home grown methodology based on Agile Manifesto and Agile Principles.

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The trend that’s been grabbing the software development world recently is the move to offshore development, where much of the development work is done in lower paid, ahem more cost effective countries. Offshore development seems opposed to agile development in a couple of ways. For a start it immediately goes against the notion of physical proximity, since by definition offshore developers are a long way away. Secondly most offshore organizations favor the plan-driven approach where detailed requirements or designs are sent offshore to be constructed.

There are major challenges with the Agile process with a geographically distributed team, or an onsite offshore model. Delivery of working software at regular intervals at a sustainable pace and responding to the changing needs of business users are the imperatives of agile. However, one must understand the challenges involved in distributed development. These challenges fall under four broad categories: 

  1. Communication & Coordination
  2. Time zone differences
  3. People, culture and leadership style
  4. Change Management

Distributed Agile in offshore outsourcing is when two or more teams of different organizations from different countries participate in an agile project. The success of distributed agile projects involving offshore teams depends on several factors: project type, volatility of requirements, distributed governance, skills and competency of team members and the culture of participating organizations. Those who have succeeded in distributed agile projects in the offshoring context agree on the symbiotic relationship between distributed agile and offshoring. The organizational culture of participating organizations plays a major role in nurturing distributed agile ecosystems. A good mindset, open communication and collaborative participation among organizations, results in a positive relationship that supports distributed agile projects. Without these elements, organizations continue to function with differences in understanding and expectations on distributed agile.

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A typical Onsite – Offshore model in Agile Development looks as defined below in the picture.

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To overcome all the hurdles and impediments of Distributed Agile with multiple teams there is one very innovative way which we came up with after long continued discussion with the customers namely Agile Delivery Factory.

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Our current component setup needs huge efforts just to maintain dependencies. We have more fire fighting among our teams than cooperation. We have conflict of mindsets of methodology (Agilists vs Waterfall vs those who are in between both worlds). Too many good people with good knowledge leave the team within this long period of battling to deliver. Everyone is trying their best already, but people are exhausted and their mood is low.

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New Perspective of Agile Delivery Factory
Transformation from Component Teams to Feature Squads.

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The Transformation Begins
5 Key Principles of an Agile Squad

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Agile Delivery Factory (ADF) – Team Structure – Idea of SQUADS

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Small & agile teams to enable efficient project delivery.

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What will change?

  • Offshore and Onsite Squads to be equally E2E responsible for implementations
  • Additional supporting roles Offshore are opened i.e. Business Engineering, Project Management, Test Management
  • Onsite squads will no longer do task coordination with offshore. Coordination will be ensured via Enablers
  • A System Squad will be formed (shared offshore and onsite)
  • Squads have a new roles that is called “Squad Captain”
  • Every squad will stricly apply Agile Principles for implementations and will be coached if needed
  • Heavy investment to Test Automation and Automatic Regression testing will be made to ensure frequent releases

Agile Delivery Factory (ADF) picture1

Image Source : Google

  • Understand why we do stuff and the value of it
  • Really finish stuff
  • Easily implement and/or integrate a new screen
  • Easily implement and/or integrate a new service
  • Don’t break shit in production
  • Easily ramp up new team members
  • Easily share knowledge
  • We trust and are proud of our deliveries because
    • we don’t have recurring tasks and bugs

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We have contributed to several success stories using the Agile Delivery Factory Model in our Organization. Every year we see many new releases kicking off in this model. We have experienced the symbiotic relationship between distributed agile and offshoring and so have our customers. We believe that distributed agile will be increasingly adopted over the coming years. Considering the success and benefits of distributed agile, the number of distributed agile projects in this engagement is on the rise.

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How the interaction between alumni and Institute should be enhanced and strengthened….

For an Alumni, his graduation college remains a second home. Colleges are centers of learning where minds are trained.

A place that provides roots, a storehouse of memories of fun and learning. This relationship, between the Institute and the Alumni, like all relationships, needs to be tended carefully and nurtured for mutual benefit. The importance of resource generation in helping the Institute maintain its standards of excellence, is clear to most of us. Some of the other thoughts which have arisen on how to implement these plans for greater interaction between our College and the Alumni are mentioned below.

The first and foremost step is to create an effective and concrete database of all the Alumini, only then will everyone be accessible. The availability of the Alumni Directory will itself be a step in the direction of improving the networking between the Alumni, a prerequisite for nurturing vibrant Alumni relations.

The Alumni Association serves and represents alumni and the Institute, by engaging and empowering all alumni as active and effective partners in the GCEKian community; and by promoting the lifelong, mutually beneficial pursuit of the aspirations shared by the college and its alumni.

The Association is the voice for a diverse and sophisticated alumni population; and the Association also represents the needs of the Institute back to its alumni.

To forge lifelong partnerships between the Institute and its alumni friends, the Association should take into account some of the steps mentioned below:

  • Celebrate the achievements of alumni as leaders.
  • Involve alumni as recruiters, visiting lecturers and critics, mentors, and employers of undergraduates and graduate students. (wherever possible)
  • Create services and networks that provide a seamless transition from student to alumni life, assist alumni in career success, and establish linkages among alumni and between alumni and their alma mater.

The Association should try to facilitate the exchange of information, ideas, and opinions between the Institute and its alumni/ae.

The Alumini A facilitates the exchange of information from:

  • The alumni to the Institute – the RAA Board of Trustees acts on behalf of the alumni to ensure that alumni views and satisfaction with Institute initiatives are made known to the Institute.
  • The Institute to the alumni – to make sure that alumni have an accurate view of the Institute and an understanding of its current initiatives and accomplishments.

In a broader perspective the Alumni and the Institute, with the co-ordination of the Alumni Association should take advantage of public relations opportunities to publicize, and give recognition to the accomplishments of alumni and the Institute which will:

  • enhance the perceived value of an RPI education.
  • assist in recruiting prospective students.
  • assist in attracting corporate recruiters.
  • develop partnerships with various governmental agencies and corporations, e.g., internships, joint ventures, licensing of intellectual property.
  • assist in broadening professional and social interactions among alumni and with students and the Institute.

As a result, alumni and students will turn out in record numbers from all around the globe.

The Alumni Association must find ways to help reunion classes increase their attendance. Each member of the Alumni Association should be encouraged to actively participate in the reunion planning process for their respective class. Specific attention should be paid to alumni classes celebrating milestone reunions such as ten, twenty-five, thirty, forty-five, and fifty. Where possible, the Alumni Association must aid in expanding the participation in individual events throughout a weekend including class dinners, reunion parade and lunch, breakfast with the deans, alumni class speakers and the golf outing. Similar initiatives should take place to encourage participation in Homecoming.

These are some of the ways to keep the threads alive between the Institute and it Alumni friends…..

“The chief value in going to college is that it’s the only way to learn it really doesn’t matter.” – George Edwin Howes

My College Dayz…

College is the best time of your life…..almost everyone says that, but I have lived it….
You have four years to be irresponsible here. Relax. Work is for people with jobs. You’ll never remember the class time, but you’ll remember time you wasted hanging out with your friends. So, stay out late. Go out on a Tuesday with your friends when you have a paper due Wednesday. Spend money you don’t have….. ;)
The Third Law of Applied Terror fits perfectly in college…and every boy or a girl has to experience this…The law goes as :
“80% of the final exam will be based on the one lecture you missed and the one book you didn’t read.” Now ain’t that something. You laugh at it now after these many years, but at that very moment you are scared to death… :)

I can summarize my college days in these beautiful lines below;

Some memories are made to be cherished in the future.

fun, friendship, freedom,
full of life…
my best days,
no more survive.

reading books,
most boring ever..
bunking classes,
and ready to gather..

singing chorus,
together at a time…
full of energy,
full of rhyme..

passing comments,
and get back scoldings..
gossip in classes,
and leave the readings..

love life,
full of swing..
break ups, patch ups,
and phone tring trings..

hanging out,
the best thing ever..
eating in stalls,
and pay money never..

dancing, laughing, smiles,
no pains..
my college days, best days ever,
lovely memories I ever gained……

Everything always comes to an end and so did this lovely golden phase in my life. It finished faster than I imagined but that’s the way its supposed to be….coz if it doesn’t, how will you remember the moments and enjoy them….

And as said by Gaurav in his lovely song,

“Kab Milenge na hum jaane yaaron phirse sabhi
Laut kar ab naa aayenge woh mastibhare din kabhi,
hoh dil yeh apna kahe ki aye dostonnnnn…
Kab Milenge na hum jaane yaaron phirse sabhi,
Laut kar ab naa aayenge woh mastibhare din kabhi,
hoh dil yeh apna kahe ki aye dostonnnn…
Woh hoh oooooo
I m really gonna miss these days,
I am gonna miss my college days……
Yaad hai woh saare lectures, humne jo bunk kiye the…..
Proxy ka pakda jaana, Lafde kya kam kiye the,
ohhh , milke likhna woh journals aur submissions last minute pe….
exams ki woh tayyari, aur likhna woh teen ghante,
Aur Baahar aakar woh kehna, “Saala kya Bekaar paper set kiya tha yaar”;
Milta 1st class kabhi yahaan, toh lagti thi KT kabhiiiii…..
Laut kar ab naa aayenge woh mastibhare din kabhi
hoh dil yeh apna kahe ki aye dostonnnnn…
Woh hoh oooooo
I m really gonna miss these days,
I am gonna miss my college days…..”

Tour de Murud Janjira…..

Well, an outing is the time to BE together. Eons have passed since I had a relaxed   outing with my friends. This was my heyday to pass time with my buddies. This day was SATURDAY the 7th of March ‘09. As summer was catching I thought to plan a Seashore outing. This time the first place came into our mind was Diveagar-Harihareshwar-Shrivardhan. Since long time we were planning and this was the perfect time to go. But we had changed our plan to Murud-Janjira. Murud is popular for its alluring beach, whispering casuarinas, coconut, betel palms, and historical fort Janjira. We drew the detailed travel plan and put infront of our ever enthu Cognis. All were excited for a seashore outing. Destined was our trip to Murud-Janjira & Kashid Beach.

The day earlier was filled with fervor right from the morning, with me babling on amount to be collected from everyone…..!!! The general conception was the plan to go to Diveagar, Harihareshwar  and Shrivardhan which was timely eluded. One more topic on which war entailed was to plan a 1-day itinary or 2-day itinary which finally was settled to Murud-Janjira and Kashid Beach and curtailed to single day event.

My plan was to remain awake through the night, but as the day seemed hazy, all my schemes to remain awake seemed to go awary. Adding salt to fire, my bro announced of his time for bed, and that did it…All games, internet stopped at 1am on 7th. Alas, the Flintstones score woke me up, and to my dismay it was Bora shattering my capricious dream as if making mockery of my acting on the sets…!!! In the background I could hear the pandemonium of my doggie and that did it, even while having my bath the cadence of the tone could be heard….!!! Good for me, that could have woken my neighbours, to announce my departure. Finally after sorting through gamut of t-shirts and trek pants finally I selected a sober brown t- shirt. And hoo, I had forgotten about any monetary plans which I devoured by the ATM later that morning.

The clock reaching at 3 am sharp, out of my sleep slogging my legs, I got ready. After 4 did every one start popping out furnished with bats, football and so on alongwith the tempo traveller that we had booked for our outing. As usual everyone was praising me for my timely presence for the bus for which I wasn’t on time. Then started the game of football, with everyone displaying their dexterity but at the same time pumping the ball in 360 degree aimed at my face and tummy intentionally or unintentionally while confabulation was in progress about our itinerary. Finally after settling down our journey began………

But after a small amount of travel, phrases flying from all directions, friends making waggish humour, the traveller carrying 10 of my buddies came to a grinding halt. Its diesel time. Cameras were unleashed and great clicks and noises followed with smiles. After wasting quarter of an hour in the petrol pump’s vicinity did our journey continue. The game of dumb charades followed tuning with the mystifying panoramas of misty mountains and lush greenery. By Swapna n Vrunda’s courtesy cookies, fruits, chips and biscuits were on the menu accompanied with our very own Radio Mirchi. None were spared or were allowed to sleep waking them up to play the game,and none refuted. The captivating scenes can only be imagined through photos for those absent.

The Pune-Mumbai expressway followed with even more picturesque landscapes and wonderful roads. A few early morning sun rays and fog tipped mountains could be seen around the expressway ghat to suffuse our eyes with gaiety. I took time to arrest it in my camera.

……..The journey next at hand proved a little serene, for everyone getting the much desired sleep, which too proved truncated with me capturing everyone sleeping in my cam. Had it not been for doltish radio , everybody’s snaps would have been masala maal on my blog. All along this part villages could been seen scattered with lush green rice fields. After much tantalizing journey and spasmodic fits of slumber, we halted for a refreshing cup of tea atleast half an our from our destination.

After loitering in the premises of the restaurant and imbibing loads of water, we aimed for Murud-Janjira.

While homing in towards the fort, the first glimpse of the golden shimmering sand was caught, exclamations being uttered all around even as a strapping Janjira fort could be seen after some travel along the meandering path. But once we reached there, boat needed to traverse the path towards the fort was available only after half an hour and already it was 11 am.

Our boat ride to the fort reminded us of the movie Swades n King Khan’s scene when he was travelling in a boat. After reaching the fort, we mutually decided to hangout with a guide from whom we could go back in time to learn the history of the fort.

“Malavan Panyamadhe ghirla Shivaji

Aat Kasa shirlaa……
Shirlaa to Shirla….tyani zenda kasa phad kavla…….!!!”
was the ‘boolgeet’ that had come in my mind as we clicked all around the fort ,sitting on the collosal cannon, moving through armament buildings, watching the unperturbed olive water in the pools, peeping through the stony carved windows to behold the pulchritude around.An hour of history and shayari class was what came our way. Alongwith this we had our recess in between of taking some beautiful snaps of the wide sea as our backdrop as well as the different parts of the fort.

At the end the tour each one of us waited for our ride to come with everyones’ tummies giving hues and cries. Finally we reached ashore and headed towards our luncheon.

With surmai and chicken being served alongwith veg thali, lunch proved to be very eventful with Vrunda playing with a meow. Even more eventful was our post lunch session,  a session ofCRICKET…..Divided into teams, we enjoyed our customized gully cricket just to end the match in a draw.

But each one of had lots of fun.  With some of us retiring to play “Who’s the King??”, me n Harpreet decided to try our hands on Frisbee. Half an hour of non-stop Frisbee was enough to tire us. I then went on into the coconut plantation to get some nice pics. It was by 4.30pm when we flowed on the beach when I capered with the dashing waves on the Murud beach. But the water at Murud beach seemed to be too slushy for playing, so we decided to enjoy the sea at the Kashid beach. By 5.30 we reached Kashid beach where I without wasting any time jumped into the sea splashing water on those reluctant to get soaked with sea water.

And finally for the much needed swim that too on and against the flow of the chrushing waves. More entreating was the part when I swam along the flow of the waves, when I would be thrown nauches above the water. I even tried underwater swimming but that wretchedly proved sore to my eyes. Much energy was sapped on this course of the journey.

After having some snacks n tea, and relaxing ourselves in the hammocks, we freshened up and headed back to our Punyanagari – Pune.

Songs from the radio followed through rest of the excursion while most of my friends slept. Sitting with the driver I could feel his restlessness to get to Pune as soon as possible through his driving. The guy went bizzarge driving in the night in the twists n turns of the ghat with a speed of 70 km/hr plus. It was really amazing to see his control over the traveller even at that blazing speed in the ghat.

So at 11 pm that night was the end of our epochal odyssey (in one piece), got to know to know my buddies better.Without getting mawkish I perceive that to know each other can best happen only through such outings. For all others this alienness may still prevail……….


Our escape to Rajgad fort…

It was going to be yet another boring weekend and after undergoing perpetual stress at work; I as usual wanted to get away from Pune. I ganged up with three other friends (Anand, Prafulla and Pratik) who had a mutual feeling. As you know that the History repeats itself, here too it repeated but in a different way. Just as Shivaji escaped from custody of Aurangzeb at Agra to come back to Rajgad his mountain capital, we too decided to escape to Rajgad from our tiring work.

Rajgad as the name suggests is the ‘King of all Forts’. This fort has great historical relevance, as it was Shivaji’s favourite fort and is first mountain capital. Rajgad is south-west 40 Kms from Pune. Rajgad boasts the highest number of days stayed by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj on any fort. He spent almost 25/30 yrs here. Rajgad is famous for its construction. Fort is about 1350 mtrs. high.

The fort can be divided into four different parts based on geographical terrain and fortification. These are the three sub-plateaux (Machee) namely Padmavati Machee, Suvela Machee and Sanjevani Machee, and at the centre Ballekilla (meaning “small fort”).

Padmavati Machee (north end) :This machee is the site of Padmavati Temple, Padmavati Lake, Chor Darwaja, Pali Darwaja, Gunjavane Darwaja, Daru Kothar (storage of arms and ammunition), Diwankhana, Rajwada (ruins), Ghod Tale (Horse Lake), Sadar (office) and Dhalkathi (flag hoisting place).

Sanjeevani Machee (southwest/west end): This huge, beautiful and royally constructed machee faces west and has a three-stepped (layered) fortified structure. Each of the lower levels is separated from the higher one by a fortified bastion with a gate that could be defended independently. The lowest level is beautifully fortified by double curtain walls (chilkhathi) separated by a deep trench, on average 12 feet across. One can walk between these walls. The outer wall has openings to let soldiers out for sudden attack.

Suvela Machee (south east): This is another grand machee facing east with lots of secret routes and doorways. This one is a double-stepped fortified machee with the steps separated by a beautiful bastioned doorway. At the end of first step a hole cuts across the rock; one can sit on this hole (nedhe). The final (lowest) step like Sanjeevani Machee is has a double curtain wall. To the south side of this machee one can find a beautiful triangular bastion called Kaleswari buruz having an escape door near it. The home of the renowned military leader Tanaji Malusare in this machee.

Bale Killa (centre): This is the highest part of the fort which has remains of palaces, water cisterns and caves. It has a beautiful entrance door called Mahadarwaja. One can view the whole fort and the vast surrounding expanse.

On a very short notice, four of us decided and planned to have the weekend over the King of Forts. So as planned we set off from Swargate bus stand, Pune at 8.30 am on Saturday morning. Speeding past the highway we wanted to reach the base village by 11 am. The day before we had taken the route info. Somewhere it said that you get down at the base village Velhe and from there we can start our climb. Little did we know that Velhe was the basevillage of Torna Fort and not the Rajgad Fort. When we reached Velhe, we already knew that we were running behind schedule for the climb. Not wasting much time, we quickly had our breakfast as we all were famished.

From Velhe we took a private car to reach one of the basevillage of Rajgad, named Pali. Pali is a small village at base of the fort which leads to the Pali Darwaja of the Fort. From Pali we started our actual journey towards the fort with the treacherous Sun right above our heads. The scorching afternoon heat took its toll on us. With all that trekking material accounting to almost 4-5 kgs hanging on our shoulders, we had to take stops at regular intervals to rejuvenate ourselves.

After a tiring steep climb of 2-3 hrs, we eventually reached the Pali Darwaja, where we had some fun taking snaps. An awesome view we had from the top. You get a pure sense of achievement, an accomplishment after you reach your destination. A few steps from Pali Darwaja and we reached the Padmavati Machee where you’ll find the actual ruins. Just having a look around, we could really feel the History and those golden days of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

Rajgad fort, which is 1350 mts in height consists of three long ridges leading from the central ‘Bale Killa’ (the central place), which is almost 500 feet high and really difficult to climb. Then you have the Padmavati Machee/ridge towards the south is where the main temple and water tank is situated. It offers a good place to stay! Then there is the Sanjivani Machee ,Suvela Machee. The Suvela Machee is one of the strongest places on the fort. The third Machee – Sanjivani is very beautiful too.

We had decided to park ourselves at one of the temples with the other trekkers, but all the temples were occupied. Hence we finally decided to camp in the open. We camped on the verandah of the Daru Kothar(Explosives room). It was around 3 pm and we had enough time on our hands to take some rest and explore the fort. We first went to Suvela Machee. You get a spectacular view of the Fort and the surrounding ridges from there. On your way to the Suvela Machee you’ll come across a Chilkhati Buruj (Watch tower) and a really big hole in the huge rock wall(called nedhe), almost of the size of a Volkswagon Beetle. While coming back to our camp from Suvela Machee, we spent some time there in the hole admiring the nature’s magic. Once back, we relaxed for a while and chalked out the next day’s schedule. It was almost sunset, so took off to catch the awesome glimpse of the Sun setting behind the dense fog.

The view of the sunset from Rajgad is really awe inspiring as the sun sets behind the Torna fort surrounding the entire ridge and valley between Rajgad and Torna with an orange halo for a brief period that seems like eternity. Rajgad connects to Torna vide a ridge and this is a complete day’s trekking taking about 6 -7 hours of trek.

After sunset we prepared a good sumptuous dinner which included lots n lots of Maggie. We had candle light + torch dinner and after dinner decided to sign off into the open and sleep under the open skies. At Rajgad, you lie down and look up at the skies you see so many stars, a rare treat for city living Puneites. We ended up doing a little bit of stargazing. At around 11 pm the tiredness of the day’s activity set in and we slept wonderfully amidst a natural surrounding with the wind playing its night song on an otherwise silent dark night. We experienced both the weathers in a single day itself. Scorching heat in the afternoon climb, and bone chilling cold in the night. I had two sweat-shirts on and a double pair of stockings (football socks), still I could feel the cold. Finally, after a struggle of an hour or so with the cold, I finally was lucky to get some sleep. The cool breeze blowing around would try to break my dreamy sleep once in a while. Then very early in the morning at around 3.30 am, I just got up, took my torch and went around in the dark abyss. After wandering around for some time, I came back and took a nap.

Next morning (Sunday) we were up by 6.00 am. We first washed the utensils that we used the last night for cooking, packed our stuff and set off to for Balle Killa, which is a 45 minute climb from Padmavati Machee. It is a very difficult climb. However there is a railing on your way up to make the climb possible. Once you have reached the ancient Gates that mark the entrance to the Bale Killa, the sense of achievement is universal as one glimpses into a beautiful view of the lake from the top. We spent time talking about the place clicking photographs. One can see the whole of Sahyadri’s from the top of this fort. The vision includes Torana, Raireshwar, Mahabaleshwar, Pratapgad, Raigad, Lingana, Bhatghar, Tung, Visapur and Sinhagad.

The bird’s eye view from Balle Killa was something that really cannot be described in words. You have to be there and experience it. Having our breakfast of fruits and bhel, we took some breathtaking snaps before we started climbing down from Balle Killa. It was 9 am when we reached back to our bags kept at the Daru Kothar. We could not explore Sanjivini Machee as we were running short of time. All of us had to get back to our jobs, which mainly provides our daily bread and butter and there was no shying away from that fact. Having got a good reason to come back yet again, we started descending, we set off for descend to the Gunjavne village through Chor darwaja. Gunjavane is another base village. This is the village from where people mostly prefer to climb. It was 9.40 am when we actually started our journey back after filling up our water bottles. We had to reach Gunjavane before 11 to catch the state transport bus to Pune coz after 11 am the next bus is at 4 pm. Hence, without taking any stops, we literally ran down all through our descend and reached the base village in exactly 1 hour (10.40 am). It was a thrilling experience of non-stop running down the mountain.

After we reached down, we made ourselves some sandwiches waiting for the bus. The bus arrived at 11.15 am and after a few minutes we were enroute to Pune. Reaching Pune at 2 pm, we head back to our homes. A perfect end to an adventurous weekend.

Rajgad is truly a place to visit and remember the greatest Maratha King. One must visit the fort and enjoy the nature and the beauty of the great fort.

The thrills @ Rajmachi….!!!!

28th June, 2008.
After our Raigad outing in Feb 2008, I had planned this enjoyable trek to Rajmachi for a fun-filled adventure trek. It was really high time and I needed a break from all the hectic working round the clock. Hence, me and few of my colleagues came up with an idea for monsoon trek. And what better place than RAJMACHI to chillout. So after finalizing everythinig, 11 of us mutually decided have an adventurous weekend.

Our Journey
We started from Pune at 8:00 am by the local train to Lonavala. After reaching Lonavala we had our breakfast as everyone was starving for the early morning bite. Me and one of my colleage, Anand, we went to his sister’s home where we had made arrangements for the lunch packets for that day. After about half an hour or so, we began our journey towards RAJMACHI. Just after coming a mile from the station, it was raining so heavily that we had to stop. The rain was so dense that we couldn’t even see anything 5 feet ahead of us. We sheltered under the Pune-Mumbai express highway until the rains cleared. During our stop we had a spectacular view of the nature around us. The clouds kissing the tip of the mountains, the cool wind blowing across and the fog slowly hovering everywhere.


WE began our climb towards the Tungarli Dam, from where we were enroute towards Rajmachi. Due to the presence of many resorts, there is a perfect kuccha road there. We continued our walk till the two “Bale-killas” (Manaranjan & Sreevardhan) were in sight. We took our first halt to get a quick bite and on we went towards our “Lakshya”. From where we were standing, the fort didn’t seem so far away, but as we marched towards the fort, the reality hit us. There was a huge valley between us and the actual gadh. We had to go around the whole valley to get to the other side. During our walk, we came across many small but beautiful waterfalls. We used to occasionally stop to fill-up our emptied bottles and get a photo session going on. Really had an awesome glimpse of the colours of the nature.


The most unforgettable moment during our walk to Rajmachi was the lunch time. Exhausted and hungry, we stopped for lunch. Here we were onto our monkey skills. There were a couple of jamun (jambhul – a fruit) trees all around us. One of our colleagues climbed up one of the trees and started plucking the jamun for everyone. We collected a healthy amount of jamuns for all to enjoy after lunch. After lunch we only halted once we were near our destiny. Here we had some tea and another round of photo session went on. It was a splendid view of a huge waterfall. We relaxed for a while in the cool breeze flowing around and then continued to head towards the village.


We reached our destination at around 6 pm. Straight away we went to the house where we had made a booking for staying. There we shed the load (our bags) that we carried with us, got fresh and had some nice hot “kanda-poha” and garma-garam chai. Later we decided to hang out @ the lake which the villagers had built. Monsoon and on top of that cool evening time made the atmosphere around us quite breathtaking. It was like the old Hindi saying, “Sone pe suhaga”. After it was dark, we headed back to our place where we were lodging and boarding. After reaching, we immediately had our dinner. We enjoyed our dinner alongwith the beautiful songs sung by another group of fellow trekkers in the adjacent room. When we were done with our dinner, we started one of the favourite timepass of everyone. 11 people and 2 deck of playing cards; we continued our rounds of “Challenge” and “Badam 7” late into the night, laughing aloud on the jokes till a person from the adjacent room came to request us to lower our voices as they were trying to sleep coz they wanted to leave early in the morning. After a while everybody wished each other & we closed the nice day for bed. The night was not that cold. But in the morning, wind started blowing, too chilled for us.
Two of us woke up @ 5 am and went out just to find everything in pitch dark. I was raining like it had never rained before. The only “roshni” that we could see was that of our torches in the whole village. It was really a cool experience. As the sun began to rise hiding behind the clouds, the rain slowly ‘n’ slowly became less and was replaced with the fog everywhere. We could clearly see the beautiful effects of the overnight rains.

There were beautiful waterfalls all around that we could enjoy. The fog covered the whole mountain range. We could just get a glimpse of “Shreevardhan” of a second or so in between when the fog cleared. It was really like heaven there.

After everyone of us got fresh and had our tea, we left for Shreevardhan. On our way we came across a temple with some beautiful sculptures infront of it. We took a moment to admire them and moved on towards our goal. The climb to Shreevardhan was very adventurous. It was raining, the road to the top was rocky and narrow, and to add to it, there was very less visibility due to the fog everywhere. We could not make out how high we had come. After about an hour or so, when the fog cleared a bit, we got the bird’s eye view of the whole mountain range. We were at the peak now, could see everything very clearly. We were back to our monkey business when we reached the peak. There was a flag-post on the top. Few of us climbed atop the post to get the feel of being at the highest point…!!! It was a bit scary there, really; the wind blew at blazing speed. The post, at the top was swinging a bit alongwith the wind.


Later we went to have a look at the biggest waterfall in that region. I sat on the edge of the watch-tower (buruj) to get the most awesome view of the falls. It was something that absolutely can’t be described in words. You have to be there to experience it.

After awhile, we started our decent towards the village for lunch. It was just 10.30 in the morning. Imagine having lunch @ that time…!!! Finishing our lunch quickly we started our return journey towards Lonavala. Setting realistic distances for halts, we reached Lonavala in record breaking time (atleast for us) of 4 hours. It was half the time we took to reach Rajmachi..!!
By the time we reached Lonavala station, our legs were shouting at the top of their voices with pain. And from there our journey back home began. Reaching Pune station @ 4.30 pm on 29th June, 08, we bid each other and left for our home sweet home. The after effects of the two days trek showed on each one of us faces the next day in office…!!!

But, all-in-all, it was a wonderful experience for each one of us…!!!

Information about this area
The fort is one of the Shivaji’s fort. This fort was made in those days mainly aiming for the trade. From the base village one can see two adjacent fort. Facing from the village towards those forts, The one which is at right side is Sreevardhan & one at Left is Manaranjan. While ascending to Sreevardhan from Rajmachi one can see a Temple. In front of the temple one can find an old small canon(Tof). From the top of Sreevardhan fort, facing to the east one can see Shirota lake, Sangshi village at north which is a base for Dhak fort. On the south one can see Duke Nose. On the west one can see the Lonavala Khandala & the grate train route as well the newly build Express Highway also Ulhas river.

Descending down from Rajmachi to Karjat side one can visit Kondana caves where you can find grate peace of architecture. These are of 3-4 Buddha caves. Inside the main cave you can find remains of wooden art work still this date. In the rainy season this place will be more crowded due to a prominent waterfall from the top of the Caves. In the rainy season one can approach this place from Kondivade a small trek.