They do not celebrate New Year or Christmas holidays partying in pubs.
Instead, members of the Sahyadri Bhraman Trekkers, a trekkers’ group in Dombivli, spend the holidays visiting forts, picking up scattered beer bottles, polythene bags and leftover food items.
The activity, casually started by a handful of young trekkers in 2006, has now evolved into a big movement with kids, women and even senior citizens taking active part in the treks organised by the group.
“We casually started this activity because our lovely forts looked ugly with litter thrown all over. Now, people from all walks of life are taking part in the initiative,” said Pankaj Samel (31), the president of the group.
In the three years since it started, the movement has spread across far-flung villages in Maharashtra.
Recently, the group visited Kondivate village near Karjat and urged the locals to take care of the famous Kondhane fort that dates back to 1 BC.
“It is difficult for us to visit these forts regularly. So, we have convinced the villagers to look after them,” said Samel, who works at an information technology firm in Bandra.
In exchange, the group pools in money from their own pockets to fix petty problems of the villagers.
“We can’t solve the bigger problems like lack of electricity and roads. But we try to tackle minor issues like fixing someone’s bullock cart,” added the 31-year-old.
Gunjavne (Raigad fort) and Mahuli (Mahuli fort) are some of the other villages covered by the trekkers’ group. “We plan to cover three more forts soon.”
The group will soon launch a website to give out information about the 300 forts in the state and its
“There are several small forts in the state lying in shambles. People should know about them,” said a member of the group.
In 2007, the group played a big role in stalling the sale of Underi fort, located 5 km from Alibaug. Locals tried to sell it off to a city-based business family that had plans to covert it into a resort. The state later recognised the structure
as a monument.