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  Ruzbeh Billimoria's Section
 

Welcome to Ruzbeh's Section. Over the past few years, Ruzbeh has compiled vital information on various aspects such as history & geographical information on the forts and the regions, routes, camping logistics, sightseeings around the forts and so on.

Please click on the links & go thru them carefully whilst planning your treks. Well! if you do find any wrong information do mail us so that we can verify them & carry out the necessary corrections.


Harihar
Arnala
Kothligad
Irshal
Jivdhan
Siddhagad
Korlai
Revdanda
Tung
Kalavanteen Durg
Manikgad
Bhimashankar
Harishchandragad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Harihar
This spectacular fort is built on a triangular prism of rock. Its three faces and two edges are absolutely vertical (90 degrees). The third edge towards the west is inclined at an angle of 75 degrees. A one meter wide rocky staircase with niches on both sides, is carved on this edge for ascending / descending the fort. After the first set of steps the route is cut through the edge of the mountain and hence passing under an overhang, with a straight fall on the left. The route from here on goes partly from the inside of the mountain, which will make you remember the route to Kothligad.

This steep route to the fort makes this fort unique among all the Sahyadri forts. Had there been no fort built on this mountain, this mountain would just be standing without any importance, like many other mountains in this region. And so trekkers like us would have avoided it as the hill would be inaccessible.

One of the fort's faces facing Nirgudpada is called 'Scottish Kada', perhaps because Doug Scott, a renowned British mountaineer, climbed it for the first time in November 1986. This cliff ('kada' is the Marathi word for cliff) is about 170 meters in height.

Height above mean sea level: 1120 meters (3676 feet)

Other names: Harshgad, Harish.

Trekking area: Nasik.

Base village: Nirgudpada.

Description of trekking route: From the main road (Nasik-Khodala) turn right just before a bridge. After 5 minutes one reaches a man-made water tank with stone steps. Follow the path from here to the base and start climbing through the forest towards the col between Fani dongar on the left and Harihar on the right (1hour). From the col one gets a good view of Fani dongar* with Utwad and Basgad in the background. Turn right from the col towards the fort. Now one gets a good view of the steep rock-cut steps to the fort. From the col walk straight through the forest and not the path going to the right. After about 15 minutes one reaches the base of the steps passing through overgrown trees. The steps are about one meter wide and each step has two niches on either side for gripping/holding. After climbing the first set of steps one reaches the first entrance. Walking past it one has to bend and walk through an overhang to reach another set of steps. The face of rock was cut here to build a route. One the left side there is a straight drop into the valley facing Brahma hill. The steps from here are winding and pass through the rock like the ones on Peth-Kothligad fort in the Karjat region. Climbing these steps you reach the second entrance. Walking past it you reach the top of the fort.

Other routes: The fort can also be climbed from Harsh and Samundi villages a little before Nirgupada towards Trimbak. Another route comes from the base of Trymbakeshwar via Suplichiwadi and Alnipada.
One can also do a cross country trek from Utwad and Basgad forts to Harihar via the common plateau of Fani and Harihar.
Please note that there is only one route going up to the top of Harihar and that is via the rock cut steps. All the routes mentioned above meet at the base on the plateau.

Sightseeing: There are many ruined water tanks on the top. There is a small Hanuman temple with a pond behind it. This is the source of water on the fort. There is also a small Shiva temple. A little ahead is a small temple without any deity. It has a room for camping. The entrance to the temple is very small and one has to bend and go inside.
The actual top of the fort is a small pinnacle like hill above Scottish kada and facing Nirgudpada. One has to do a little free rock-climbing to reach the top. The top is very small and very few people can stand on it at a time.

View from top: The view from top is very exciting. One can see Vaghera in the north; Tringalwadi, Kavnai and Upper Vaitarna lake in the south; Brahma, Kapda, Brahmagiri, Sasra hill with Navra-Navri pinnacles; Anjaneri in the east; and Fani donagar, Basgad (Bhaskargad) and Utwad fort in the west.

Time to see fort: 1 ½ hours.

*Fani dongar: This hill at 3255 feet has a pinnacle, which is about 30 meters high. It resembles the hood of a cobra. Hood means 'fan' in Marathi, 'dongar' means hill and hence the name 'Fani dongar'.

Place for camping: Temple on top can accommodate about15 persons.

Water: Pond on top and base village.

Trekking season
: Mid-June to March.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Arnala
Arnala fort, built on Arnala island, is approximately 8 miles north of Bassein (now Vasai). It is surrounded on all sides by water and so is also known as "Jaldurg" or "Janjire Arnala". When the Portuguese took control of this fort they called it 'Ilha das Vaccas'. The fort has a lone bastion in the south end. The entry to this is blocked by the overgrown trees.

The main fort is on the northern side of this island. The fort has broad and strong walls about 30 feet high with three entrances - the main entrance being in the north, with elephant and tiger carvings on the sides. There are steps leading to the ramparts (walls), and one can take a walk around the entire boundary wall. The fort has 9 bastions all around. The ramparts also have number of small openings in its broad walls to allow entry in the small rooms and store houses below. Some of these storehouses are used by the villages to store their paddy crop. There is a canon ball, still stuck on the inner side of the western wall near the temple.

Sightseeing:
There is a Trymbakeshwar and Bhawani Mata temple inside the fort. The fort also has a Mosque where religious festivals are celebrated every year. At one end there are the Padukas of Swami Nityananda, inside a small dome-shaped structure. Arnala island has few wells with potable water, one of the well is right inside the fort. This stepped well or 'Pushkarni' is opposite the Trymbakeshwar temple and is octagonal in shape. Today Arnala Island has a population of over 3000 people who live in the village on the periphery of the fort. The basic earnings of these people, is through fishing. The villagers also grow vegetables on small plots inside the fort, as well as on the western side outside the fort. A small part of the southern end of the fort is converted into a restaurant by one of the locals.
In 2001, the island received electricity through the ONGC, with the efforts of Minister Ram Naik.

Time to see fort: ½ hour.

How to reach the fort:
Take one of the many local trains to Virar (Symbol - V) on the Western Railway. Alight in the west and take a ST bus or an auto-rickshaw to Arnala. Walk through the village to the jetty which is the extension of the beach in the north and take a local ferry to the island (10 minutes). The ferry can be crowded as it is regularly used by the locals. There are ST buses to Arnala from Vasai also, but Virar is a better option.

About Arnala Beach:
Arnala beach is a very famous beach among the Bombayites. Every Saturday, Sunday and public holidays, there are loads of picnickers coming to this place. The beach extends from the creek in the north to Nirmal then Girij and finally to Vasai in the south. An early morning or late evening coastal walk all along the beach can be very enjoyable. The area north of the main Arnala beach upto 'Vaitarna Khadi' is full of coconut trees and is a very beautiful site which should not be missed.

Trekking season: Throughout the year. However in the monsoon it may be difficult to get a boat and enjoy the scenery around.


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Kothligad
Kothaligad is the only one of its kind where the route to the top is partly carved through the inner part of the hill. There are huge winding steps going up to the top. The fort is more commonly called 'Peth' because of the village of Peth situated at its base on a plateau.

Height above mean sea level: 472 meters (1550 feet)

Other names: Peth.

Trekking Area: Karjat.

How to reach the fort: Take a local train to Karjat (S) or to Khopoli (KP) and get down at Karjat. From the south-east of the station take a ST bus to Karjat-Jambrukh (31km) and get down at Ambivli (3km before) or at Jambrukh after about 1 hour. Kashele can also be reached by Vikram or ST from Neral Junction station but there is no direct ST to Jambrukh.
A 15 minutes walk from Ambivli takes you to a 4th century cave, worth a look.

Description of trekking routes:
1) From Ambivli: From Ambivli village walk on the broad cart track which winds up to the Peth village. The village of Peth is situated nearly three-fourths the way to the top on the plateau. It is a 2 hours trek. There is a cannon of the British times in the village. This cannon is made of an alloy of five metals (panch dhatu). After crossing the village, take the well used path to the right, to start climbing up to the fort. The path on the left leads to Jambrukh village. After climbing, the path bifurcates at the broken stone entrance. The path to the left circumvents the fort and the path on the right climbs up to the fort. Just before entering the fort is a path on the right which leads to ruined cannon on the ground.

2) From Jambrukh: From this village walk on a bridge to a hamlet called Devpada. Ask any villager to show you the start of the 'vat' and you are on your way. The route is entirely through the forest without any openings. It is a continues ascent and can be exhaustive in summer. The route climbs up to the plateau where Peth village is situated. Then it finally meets the route mentioned above.
Note: If you intend to take the Jambrukh route, then do not forget to ask a villager from Devpada for the start of the route. It is confusing as there are many prominent paths around. On you are on your way it is a straight route to the top and there is no chance to lose your way.

Sightseeing:
As one passes through the entrance one the right is Bhairoba cave: This cave is very old and clean, and can accommodate many people at a time (about 40). The floor also is very flat and so good for camping. There are water cisterns near the entrance of the cave. Inside the cave are small rooms which were used to store ammunition by the Marathas. Just near the entrance of the cave is another small cave which holds the idol of Lord Bhairoba, which is regularly visited by the locals. The route to the top begins near the water tanks. There are rock-cut steps inside the funnel, which take you to the top. The top has a tank, a temple and a house. The top of the mountain is not very wide but offers an excellent view of the surroundings. At a certain tricky portion railings are placed to make the climb easy. On the return one can circumvent the fort. Behind the port is a small board saying that a boy fell down while climbing the pinnacle from behind. There were only two of them.

View from top: N - Padar Killa, Tungi and Bhimashankar. S - Tata Bhivpuri electric station mountain and the Matheran range. E - The crest-line of the Sahyadris (Ghatmatha). W - Konkan plains.

Time to see fort: 1 ½ hours.

Night stay: The Bhairoba cave can accommodate about 40 trekkers at a time.

Water: A tank near the cave.

Trekking season:
Mid-June to March.

Note:
The trek can be more enjoyable if one ascends from Jambrukh and descends to Ambivli.


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Irshal
Irshal is a prominent pinnacle-like hill, which cannot be missed while passing on the Mumbai-Pune road (NH No.4). The wind has carved out a beautiful formation in the rocks, saddle shaped with sharp ridges and a hole in the centre. As the structure resembles a saddle it is also called 'Saddle hill' and since it was also associated with Shivaji Maharaj, it is also called 'Shivaji's Saddle'.

Height above mean sea level: 370 meters (1213 feet)

Other names: Irshalgad, Vishalgad, Saddle hill, Shivaji's saddle.

Trekking area: Panvel.

Description of trekking routes:
1) From Nadhal - Take a ST bus to Chowk, Karjat, Khopoli or any bus going further and get down at Nadhal (17 kms) on the NH No.4. Nadhal is 1 km. after Dirubhai Ambani hospital at Lodhivali. From the stop turn left and walk straight towards the fort. On the right is the Nadhal village. Cross the Panvel-Karjat line from under the bridge. Head for the small rocky portion which can be seen a little high on the ridge. After reaching the rocky patch climb it or walk from the left of it. Villagers take the left route as no climbing is required. The adventurous trekkers can climb the patch. Both the routes eventually meet ahead. This route climbs straight to the fort without touching the hamlet of the fort called Vishalwadi. After climbing the ridge of the hill from south, one has to turn left. The route climbs from the western part of the fort. The pinnacles are easily seen from here. Just before climbing the ridge a route bifurcated to the left and goes to Prabalgad on a narrow ridge (3 hrs. trek). After reaching the base of the rocks on has to climb up on the right. A combination of rock-climbing and trekking on scree, on a 25-30 feet patch will lead to the top of the fort.

2) From Chowk - Reach Chowk by ST or by 10-seaters from Panvel (19 kms) or Karjat (9 kms). Chowk is the next village from Nadhal if you come from Panvel. From Chowk stop walk to the railway station and then to Morbhe village (1/2 hr). Walk through the village and start climbing the ridge. On the right one can see the Varose river blocked by the Morbhe dam. The ridge ends on the plateau of the fort where Vishalwadi is situated. The village area has a good cluster of different kinds of trees, Mango being one of them. This is a 45 minutes trek. From the hamlet turn south and climb the final ridge. The route meets route no.1 a little ahead.

Other routes: Irshal and Prabal are connected by a narrow ridge. This trek can be done in 3 hours.

Sightseeing on the fort:
There is nothing on the fort except a water tank, a nedhe (hole) and three pinnacles. Two of them facing south are easy to climb but the third one which is huge is a technical climb. A few climbers have died on this pinnacle and there is a small structure put up saying this. The main pinnacle looks very huge when seen from the base of the other two.

View from the top: N - Prabalgad, Matheran. S - NH No.4, Expressway, Manikgad (dome-shaped), industries in Rasayani-Patalganga belt. E - Vishalwadi, Varose river, Morbhe dam. W - Panvel town.

Time to see fort: ½ hour.

Night camping: There is no shelter, nor any cave on top. Trekkers can camp at a villager's house in Irshalwadi.

Water: A tank on top, but Irshalwadi is a better option.

Trekking season:
Mid-June to March.


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Jivdhan
Jivdan is an ancient 'Satvahan' era fort which use to guard the ancient Nane Ghat (pass) along with other forts in the vicinity like Hadsar, Hatkeshwar and Shivneri. It is has a huge pinnacle on the right and a straight fall of about 1000 meters in the Konkan plains. Height above mean sea level: 1145 meters (3754 feet)

Trekking Area:
Malshej Ghat

Description of trekking routes:

1) From Ghatghar village (1.5 hrs): Ghatghar can be reached by ST or jeeps from Junnar (29kms) or a flat walk from Nane Ghat (3kms). From Ghatghar, walk to the ancient stone temple with a Shivling at the outskirts of the village. There is a small pond nearby. In front one can see Buddhalaya hill with a pinnacle connected to Vesnicha dongar which in turn is connected with Jivdhan with a small wall. A trail from behind the temple leads through cactus trees. After about 15 minutes one has to turn right towards the fort. There are bamboo trees here. After sometime the forest ends and one has to climb on rocky patches (can be slippery on the monsoon). On the right one can see a bit of ruined fort walls. After 45 minutes one reaches the base of the rock-cut steps. One finger holes are provided at steep sections. There are two patches where free rock-climbing is required. On the way there are few caves and water tanks but water is not potable. From here one reaches the eastern top to the granary in half an hour.

2) From Nane Ghat (Main entrance): This route faces Nane Ghat and can be seen from here. From Nane Ghat walk on the stony track towards Ghatghar. After 15 minutes one has to turn right. Keep walking till you reach a small stream. From here you can bifurcate on the right to see the Tok pinnacle, a broad pinnacle about 80 feet high. A left from here will take you to the base of a few rock-cut steps. Climbing up the blown steps one reaches the rock-wall of the fort. A route on the right will take you to the base of Vanar Lingi in 15 minutes. Take the left and walk straight. Now one can see a gully on the right with blown steps leading up. One finger holes are provided at steep sections. After about 20 minutes on enters the fort. This area is protected with huge walls about 30 feet high, on three sides and an entrance on one side. This entrance is blocked with a huge pile of rocks as the British had blasted the route in 1818. There is a small gap from where only one person can climb at a time. Even though the route was blasted, the walls here are still in pretty good condition. Climbing up and then taking a right, will take you to the actual top, just above the granary. The route on the right leads to the kada (1000 meters drop) of the fort.

Sightseeing:

1) Kothi (Granary / Storehouse): This granary is the only construction on the fort that is still almost intact. Most part of it is under the hill behind it. The outer potion is carved out in stone and the top is dome shaped but only from inside. At present there are 5 rooms inside. As you enter, there is one small one, then a big one, another big one and two small ones right inside. There may be area inside which have to be explored yet. When the fort was captured in 1818 by the British they also burnt the grains stored here. Ashes can be still seen in one of the inner rooms.

A huge water tank a little ahead has portable water.2) Northern Bastion: This bastion is in better condition and the ramparts here are quiet intact. Here there are remains of houses and water cisterns. This would have been the main point from where the route from Junnar to Nane Ghat was guarded.3) Jivai Goddess idol: This idol has four hands with weapons, a dagger of Muslim type, and a circular one. In one hand the goddess holds the tongue of the animal on which it is standing. It is not known whether the fort is called Jivdhan because its ruling deity is Jivai or she is known or named Jivai after Jivdhan.4) Vanar Lingi / pinnacle: This huge pinnacle can be seen from Nane Ghat. It is about 400 feet high. It is categorized as a tough climb by rock climbers. This pinnacle is renamed as 'Khada Parsi' because it resembles an old Parsi gentleman standing and greeting you on your way. To reach the base of the pinnacle on has to get down from the main entrance route (towards Nane Ghat) and turn left. Traverse the wall of the fort. In 15 minutes you are at the base. If you continue on the same route you can climb up the fort from the northern side, but this route is tricky. To reach the base of the pinnacle walk over the small col which joins Jivdhan and Vanar lingi. There is a small cave here where 5 people can camp (but no water around). One can walk around the pinnacle and get a good view of Tok pinnacle and the vast Konkan plains. To view the top of the pinnacle, one has to go to the southern end of the fort, but no the kada.

View from the top:- N - Vardha hill with its Navra-Navri pinnacles, Harishchandragad, Nakta, Nimgiri. S - Vanar Lingi, Durg, Dhakoba, Gorakgad, Macchindra pinnacle. E - Nimgiri, Hadsar, Kukdi river, Manikdoh lake, Budhalaya. W - Konkan plains, Nanacha Angatha and route to Nane Ghat.

Time to see fort: 2 hours.

Night Camping: The granary on top has 5 rooms but the surface is muddy and uneven at many places. About 50 trekkers can camp here. Water: One of the tanks near the granary holds drinkable water.

Trekking season:
Mid-June to March.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Siddhagad
Height above mean sea level: 982 meters (3223 feet).

Trekking area: Kalyan.

Base village: Narivli / Borwadi.

Description of routes: From Kalyan ST depot, take a ST to Murbad (29kms - 1hr.) From here there are two routes:-

1) From Narivli: From Murbad take another bus or jeep to Narivali via Mhasa.
Pass through the village and walk on the cart track towards Siddhagad. After about an hour the route starts climbing gently. The route climbs through the forest and after sometime we can see a pinnacle called 'Kakadmalchi lingi' or 'Dhavdhayachi lingi'on our left. A little ahead we see a small water tank with potable water. From here the climb is on a rocky portion. After some time one reaches a bifurcation of routes. The one on the left climbs up the ghats and goes to Ahupe, Damdamia, Bhimashankar etc. On this same route just near the bifurcation we see two stone constructions which may probably be a small temple. From here one gets a good view of the pinnacle of the fort called 'Siddhagadchi lingi'. One has to turn right from the bifurcation and now one enters the machi of the fort through a small ruined entrance approximately at 2000 feet. Turning right one reaches a small temple dedicated to 'Narmata devi'. There are ruined stone carvings all around the temple. Walking straight from here through the forest one reaches the hamlet of the fort called 'Siddhagadchi wadi' in 15 minutes. Water is available in this village. The trek from Narivli to this hamlet takes about 2 hours. This route which is called 'Narivali ghat' is frequently used by the villagers so one may get to see them on the way.

The route to Siddhagad lies just before the hamlet. From here the actual climb starts. After about 15 minutes one reaches a small house made by one of the local 'sadhu'. In fact this is a cave enroute to the fort. It is about 500 feet above the hamlet. The sadhu has built a door at the entrance with steps reaching up to the house. The base is flattened with cow dung. He has also planted papaya trees around. On the right of the house lie two water tanks out of which one is being is used. He has placed a net on the tank to avoid insects and dirt from falling in the water. A small garden hose is used to retrieve water from the tank.

The route to Siddhagad lies on the right of the house. There are a few carved steps. The route is winding and the steps are worn out. It seems that there were steps all along the way but due to course of time they have got eroded. After climbing for about 45 minutes one enters the fort. One the right is a small entrance, which leads to the northern end of the fort.

2) From Borwadi: This village can be reached by jeep from Mhasa. The route from here climbs up to the plateau on which Siddhagadchi wadi is situated. The route is steep and a ladder is placed on a vertical patch. There are also a few broken steps from here.

Sightseeing: From the northern end one gets a good view of the machi or plateau of the fort with the hamlet and the vast expanse of the Konkan plains. One the left one can see a small lake with a dam. On the right we can see the fort of Gorakgad and its tiny orange coloured temple on top. Macchindra pinnacle is hidden behind and so cannot be seen.

Walking south one reaches a circular bastion in ruins. On the left is another entrance. There seems to be another route from here to the machi with a cave halfway. But this route is no longer in use as it is eroded, steep and full of scree. From the bastion one can see the Siddhagadchi lingi and a small water tank just before the summit. This must have also been a watch-tower in the olden days. On can see Damdamia, Bhimashankar, Padar killa and Kothaligad. From here one can see the actual crest-line of the Sahyadri hills (Ghatmatha) which divides the Deccan plateau from the Konkan plains.

Top of the fort: Nothing on top, except a ruined bastion in the south, few water tanks, remains of a temple and ruins scattered all around.

Time to see fort: ½ hour.

Night camping: There is no proper shelter, nor any cave on top. Trekkers can camp at the machi village or at the home of the sadhu. At the base of his home about 15 trekkers can sleep.

Trekking season: Mid-June to March.
Note: This trek can be done in one day but one has to hurry. If desired, the trek can be done overnight, to start early and get more time to explore. Trekkers can take the last ST to Murbad from Kalyan depot at 11.30pm. Reach Kalyan early as this bus gets full as it comes. This bus reaches Murbad anywhere between 12.15 and 12.30am. From here there is a connecting bus to Narivli at 12.30am. This bus is a mini bus (about 20 seats) If the group is very large then the Murbad ST depot officials can be requested for the normal sized ST bus. This 12.30 bus reaches Narivli at about 1.15. Trekkers can camp overnight at the outer room of the village temple, 2 minutes walk. In case if the group is very large i.e more than 20 then the temple caretaker will have to be informed in advance to open the inner room of the temple.

Similarly Narivli can also be used as an overnight base for Gorakgad, Damdamia etc.


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Korlai
To the south of Alibag is the village of Revdanda, which was one of the most important centers of the Portuguese in 16th century. Revdanda was called Chaul during the Portuguese rule. Now Chaul and Revdanda villages are 4 kms apart. Further southward is the beautiful hill-fort of Korlai, surrounded by sea on three sides. It is not a very tall fort.

Height above mean sea level: (270 feet)

Other Names: Crusachi batteri, Morro de Chaul.

Trekking Area: Alibag.

Base village: Korlai.

Description of trekking routes: Korlai can be reached by ST bus from Alibag, Chaul, Revdanda, Murud. There are also vikrams plying between Revdanda and Korlai. The actual base of the fort is a 15 minutes walk from the Korlai stop. There are two routes from here:

1) From the village: This route climbs up the fort from the village and enters the fort near the eastern entrance. The citadel is very close from here. There are a lot of green trees on the way. On the right one can see the Kundalika creek and the ramparts of the Revdanda fort. The entrance has a Portuguese carving on top. There are a few steps climbing from here and there is a stone tabloid fallen on the ground with a Portuguese inscription. It is partly broken. It takes only 20 minutes to climb the fort from here.

2) From the Lighthouse: From Korlai village a cart track leads to the Korlai Lighthouse (15 minutes). You can also drive upto the gate of the Lighthouse in your own vehicle. The route to the fort lies behind the Lighthouse. A 5 minutes climb uphill on well preserved steps leads you to the western entrance.

Sightseeing:
At the northern end of the fort is machi which has an ammunition go-down and 4 cannons facing the sea. This machi is called 'Crusachi Bateri'. The rest of the fort is on top of the hill. The Bale Killa has remains of Potuguese church, a water tank, a Shiv temple and a few Portuguese inscriptions around. There are also two bastions here called San Diego (facing the sea) and San Francisco (facing the Kundalika creek). When the Marathas took control of the fort they named the two bastions as 'Pushti buruj' and 'Ganesh buruj' respectively. In all there are five bastions and many cannons on the fort. It is said that during the Portuguese rule there were 70 cannons on this fort. A little ahead the fort ends and one can see the Korlai village with a narrow stretch of the land and the rocky beach on the right.

View from top: N - Arabian Sea and Chaul Dolphin (light), S - Korlai village, E - Revdanda fort walls, Korlai bridge and 'Vikram Ispat' company, W - Lighthouse and Arabian Sea.

Time to see fort: 1 hour.

Trekking season:
Throughout the year.

About Korlai Lighthouse:
The Lighthouse is a must see. There is a charge of Rs.5 for viewing the Lighthouse. This Lighthouse is totally electrical and its light can be seen from 40 kms. in clear weather. There are 3 cannons in the compound of the Lighthouse.


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Revdanda
Height above mean sea level:
Sea level.

Other names: Chaul, Santa Maria de Castello.

Ways to reach the fort:
There are many ST buses from Alibag and Murud which come to Revdanda ST depot. The Murud ST buses also halt at Revdanda. There are also a few Revdanda ST buses from Mumbai and Roha.

About the fort: Today the Alibag - Murud road runs through the Revdanda fort and the village of Revdanda is inside the precincts of the fort. At two places the fort walls were broken so build the road coming from Aibag. There are a few remains of this ancient Potuguese fort. Walk from the ST stand. After the Police station there is a fort entrance on the right. Another entrance a little ahead, with an inscription on top. On the left is a cannon ball fixed in the wall. Steps lead up the wall from here. There is a cannon here.
Walking through the village we come to the main road. On the right is another entrance with an inscription. A gate is built here and inside is a private property. Walking on the main road you will see the ruins of a Jesuit Monastery (only a wall standing). Walk little ahead and turn left at the spot where the fort wall was broken to build the road. There are a few bastions inside and ruins. A little ahead towards the sea you will see a tall bastion (29.26 meters tall) called 'Satwani Buruj'. This name was given by the Marathas when they captured the fort. Inside it are two huge cannons. Nearby is a private property with a gate. Inside is another cannon.

To view the walls of the fort one can move out of an opening to the Revdanda beach. In high tide the waters of the Arabian Sea hit the walls of the fort. From the beach, in front you can see the Korlai fort. The lighthouse is behind and so cannot be seen. On the left is the Revdanda port.

Trekking season: Throughout the year.


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Tung
Other name:
Kathingad.

Trekking area: Maval region, near Lonavla.

Base village: Tungi or Tungwadi.

Description of routes: There are two routes to the top. Both the routes start from Tungi village or Tungwadi.

Ways to reach:
1) From Lonvala: Take a ST going to Ambavne (Amby Valley / Sahara Lake city) or further and get down at Ghushalkhamb. A broad road diagonally goes to Pune via Mulshi. Avoid this road and take the narrow road on the left. If one gets private transport then one is lucky or you nay have to walk the entire 8 kms. There is only one ST bus from Lonavla to Tungi, that is in the evening at 5. This bus stays overnight and leaving in the morning at 7.30. On the way 'Essar Agro' which has green house effects (4 kms).

2) From Kamshet: Take a private jeep or ST to Pawnanagar colony and then walk or take a jeep for 1 km to Kale colony near Pawna dam. From here there are two government launches leaving at 8 am and at 3 pm everyday. The launch will drop you to the opposite bank at Kevre in about 45 minutes at a nominal cost. The launches can be irregular at times. Kevre is a small hamlet of only 6 houses. A 45 minutes walk uphill will take you to Tungiwadi. Tungi village has four scattered wadis all around.

Description of routes: There are two routes to the fort.
Route No.1: This is the ancient route to the fort. From the village walk upto the Maruti temple surrounded by trees. The trek starts from here. Start climbing up and after about 20 minutes you will reach a very tiny cave which holds the carved idols of Lord Ganesh and Lord Hanuman. A few broken steps climb further up. A little ahead one reaches a small cave (about 4 persons can camp here) and a water tank holding water throughout the year. Climbing further up one reaches the arch of the first entrance. On the right there is a small carving of Lord Hanuman on the stone wall. A little is another arch. Walking past this entrance one finally reaches the top of the fort. In front is the Tuljai temple with a huge water tank. The Bale Killa is a 20 minute walk on the right. The trek from the Maruti to the Tuljai temple takes about 45 minutes.

Route No.2: This route requires rock climbing with equipment. Climbing can be done without equipment, but it will be unsafe. It is perhaps because of this route that the fort is also called 'Kathingad' as in Marathi language 'Kathin' means difficult and 'gad' means fort.
Description - If you are coming from Ghushalkhamb, then about 1 km. before the Tungi village, is a path going uphill. This is just before the road turns right. A half hour trek takes you to the base from where the rock climb starts. A 10 feet (approx.) climb takes you to the base of the buruj (bastion) of the fort. One has to climb this bastion (approx. 12 feet) also as there is no route from its sides. After climbing the bastion there is a trekking route which ends at a 30-40 feet rock-wall which has to be climbed also. After climbing this wall, the route joins the first one at the Tuljai temple (10 minutes).

Sightseeing on the fort:
There is nothing on the top except a Tuljai temple, water tank and the small citadel. There are wild banana trees scattered all around the fort.

1) Tuljai Devi temple - This ancient temple is built of stone. A roof has been put up by the villagers. Behind it is a huge water tank with steps leading to it. It holds water throughout the year. There are wild banana trees scattered all around.

2) Bale Killa (citadel) - The Bale Killa is a tiny pinnacle-like hump. On top there is a Tungai Devi temple without a roof and a cave in which 5 people camp. The cave is dug inside the rock of the floor. So one has to enter from down. There is a small opening for ventilation.

View from top: N - Pawna lake with Lohagad-Visapur-Bhat Rishi in the background. South - Tungi village down below. E - Pawna lake and dam, and Tikona fort (pyramidal shape fort also called Vitangagad). W - Essar Agro plant, Devgad and Morvi hills joined to a chain of unnamed hills.

Time to see fort: ½ hour.

Night camping: Cave on citadel can accommodate 5 trekkers (but there is no water here)

Water: Tank behind the Tuljai temple.

Trekking season: Mid-June to March.

Sightseeing in Tungi village:
1) Maruti temple - The idols of Lords Ganesh and Hanuman inside are ancient carvings and this temple is built around them by the villagers. It stands at the base of the fort from where the trek starts.

2) Bhairavnath temple - This ancient stone temple is a 5 minutes walk from the Maruti temple. There is a stone-carved Nandi at the entrance. In front there are 17 carved stones placed in a line a squarish small stone carving.

3) Samadhi of Anandibai - A 15 minutes walk from Tungi towards Kevre will take you to a small structure which is the samadhi (tomb) of Anandibai Gangadhar Limaye who attained 'sati'.

About Pawna Lake and Dam (Pawna Dharan):
The Pawna lake almost surrounds the fort from three sides and the sites of small islands, between the lake forms a beautiful site. Unlike the other lakes in the Lonavla-Kamshet area which are owned by Tata Power, this lake is owned by the Government of Maharashtra. The dam is to the north-east of the lake. To visit the dam one has to take permission. There is a spot south of the dam from where one gets a good view of the lake. This spot can be reached from Bhramanoli (5 minutes walk). Bhramanoli is about 1 km ahead of Kale Colony.

There were 23 villages in the catchments area of the dam. The villages were then shifted to upper slopes of the dam. The Pawana dam water is mainly supplied to the Pimpri - Chinchwad industrial belt located further downstream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Kalavanteen Durg
This pinnacle like hill is joined to Prabal with a small col. It can be clearly seen from many places all around like Matheran and also while passing on the Pune road.

Height above mean sea level: 690 meters (2263 feet)

Other name: Kelve Teen, Kalavanteenicha durg.

Trekking area: Panvel.

Description of Route:- From Panvel take a Thakurwadi ST bus (approximately 13 km.) and get down at Apollo Nusi Research Centre in Thakurwadi. Route: Panvel - Palaspe phata - Shedung - Belavli - Vardoli - Thakurwadi. The road follows the Mumbai-Pune road upto Shedung phata and then takes a left. This road is the National Highway No.4, but is popularly regarded as the old Mumbai - Pune road after the Expressway came into effect. If one misses the Thakurwadi ST bus then one can take a sharing ten-seater autorickshaw (Vikram) to Vardoli and then walk the remaining distance from there. A good warm-up! On the way one can see Prabalgad on the right and Kalavanteen durg on the left, a little lower than its counterpart, but sharing a common lower plateau.
From Apllo Nusi turn left (the bus goes ahead) and walk on the narrow tar road for about 15 minutes. On the left there is an unnamed hill with three pinnacles. Climb up from the broad cart-track to a hamlet of 'Thakur' tribals on Prabalmachi; a gentle climb. There are few steps enroute and on the right one can see rock-cut carvings of Lord Ganesh and Lord Hanuman. These ancient rock-cut steps are cemented by the villagers to prevent further damage.

Prabalmachi is actually the lower plateau of Prabalgad, but not the main fort. Walk through the hamlet and reach the small col between Kalavanteen durg and Prabalgad (1/2 hr.). This route i.e. from Prabalmachi to the col is marked with white arrows in the reverse direction. From the col, turn left and climb the steep rock-cut steps to the top of the durg (1/2 hr.). It is a fascinating sight to climb the fort via the steep rock-cut steps which are about 2 feet in height. This is the only route to the fort i.e. from Prabalmachi (300 m.). There is no other trekking route unless rock climbing is done, which is very difficult. On the way there is a natural cave. To reach the actual top, one has to do a 12-15 feet easy rock climb (Free rock climbing - No equipment required).

Sightseeing:-
There are no fortifications on the fort; neither any signs of ruins of fortifications.
There are caves with water and a few rock carvings facing Prabalmachi, but it is very difficult to reach them. A strong rope will be very useful to reach the caves from the actual top.

View from top:-
The top is very small and open from all sides. It provides a panoramic view of the hills in the north-eastern direction from Malanggad (Haji Malang) to the western face of Matheran hill-station. Dodhani lake (Gadeshwar talao) can also be seen at the base of these hills. In the south, the northern-most point of Prabalgad can be seen. To the west one can see the Prabalmachi hamlet on the plateau. Down below Vardoli village and the white buildings of Apollo Nusi in Thakurwadi can also be seen. The broad trekking route from Thakurwadi to Prabalmachi can also be seen to the right. Further on the Mumbai-Pune road (NH No.4) and the Expressway can also be seen with Karnala fort and its pinnacle in the background.

Time to see fort: 10 minutes

Night Camping & Water: The main fort-top does not have a cave for camping. So trekkers can use a tent. Alternatively a group of about 20 trekkers can camp in the Math on the southern end of Prabalmachi near the hamlet. Water is available near the Math, but can be dirty. Trekkers can take water from the hamlet. One can also stay in a villager's house.

Trekking season: Mid-June to March. On has to be careful of the slippery paths in the monsoon.


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Manikgad
This dome shaped fort can be seen as you pass on the Mumbai - Pune Expressway from Panvel. It has a long ridge connecting its base.

Height above mean sea level: 572 meters (1876 feet)

Trekking area: Panvel.

Base village: Vashivli.

Description of trekking routes:
Vashivli can be reached by ST from Panvel via Rasayani and Patalganga. From Vashivli the route climbs up the ridge to Katkarwadi village (1 hour). Continue walking on the ridge. On the left is another route coming up from Lohop and Vadgaon ( ½ hour). A little ahead you will come to another village called Dongarwadi. There are two routes from here. Take the easy one on the right which goes around the fort. A little ahead one can see the pinnacle of the fort called 'Manikchi lingi'. On the way is a small Hanuman carving worshipped by the villagers passing from here. Nearby is a small water tank holding water till April. Walk a little ahead, the route then climbs up the fort. On the way you will see the other route which is a little tricky and not well defined.

Sightseeing:
Crumbled fort walls, ruined bastions, many dry cisterns, remains of a temple, an entrance with a Lord Ganesh carving and a few cellars.

View from top: N - Mumbai-Pune road and Expressway, Irshal and Prabal; S - many villages; E - Madapcha dongar (the adjoining hill) and the road to Pune. W - Savna lake and Karnala fort.

Time to see fort: ½ hour.

Night camping: No suitable spot on top.

Water: The small tank at the base near the Lord Hanuman carving.

Trekking season: Mid-June to March.


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BHIMASHANKAR
Bhimashankar situated in the village of Bhavagiri, is a famous pilgrimage site in the Sahyadris / Western Ghats. It is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva in India. It has a beautiful stone temple, surrounded by thick forest. Even though Bhimashankar is not a Sahyadri fort it is still a major trekking destination because of the ancient temple, beautiful view-points, the 'Shekru' and the wilderness.

Height above mean sea level: 1005 meters (3296 feet)

Trekking Area: Karjat (via Khandas), Pune (via Bhorgiri), Kalyan (Narivli)

Ways to reach :
Khandas: The regular trekking route to Bhimashankar is from Khandas. Khandas can be reached by ST bus from Karjat via Karjat-Khandas or Karjat-Nandgoan buses. There are also Vikrams plying between Khandas and Kashele which in turn is connected to Neral by Vikrams as well as ST buses. From Khandas there are 3 routes.

1) Ganpati / Ganesh ghat (5.5 hours trek)- This is the longest and easiest route. This route gets its name from the small Ganpati temple situated enroute. Trek uphill till you reach the temple. About eight trekkers can camp here. Turn left from here and climb upwards till you reach base of Padar Killa (610m - 2002ft). Padar Killa and its cave can be easily from here. Turn right from here and you arrive at a well (built in 1995). Trekkers can fill water here but only in the monsoons when the water is clean. There is a route going from here to Padar Killa (3hrs). Ignore this route and walk straight from the well till you reach a small monsoon waterfall. There is a tea stall here built by the villagers. Trek straight from here to a spot from where a route goes to the left i.e. to Shidi Ghat. Ignore this route and trek straight ahead to a spot from where many routes bifurcate. Here there are a few tea stalls here. The villagers serve tea here. It is a good place for trekkers to rest and have their meals. We call this place 'Kala Pathar Chowk', due the presence of a large stone boulder. From here the route on the left goes to Khandas via Shidi Ghat, the one straight goes to Padarwadi village and the one on right goes to Bhimashankar. Halfway one gets a good view of Padar Killa behind and Padarwadi village down below. After the final climb when you are on the plateau of Bhimashankar, there is a small pond dug out in the ground called 'Hanuman Tal'.
Note: The route to Padar Killa is very confusing and at places climbing is required with rope. Please take a villager if you are intend to combine this trek also.

2) Gogul Ghat (4.5 hours trek)- This route is unknown to many trekkers and not mentioned in the trekking books probably because the route is not well defined. From the small bridge on the tar road trek uphill till you meet route no.1 at the base of Padar Killa. This route surpasses the Ganpati temple. The route passes over big rocks most of the time and so it is difficult to locate the track. Hence it is better to hire a villager to avoid inconvenience.

3) Shidi Ghat (4.5 hours trek)- This route gets its name from the wooden ladders placed on the steepest sections. Hire a villager if you plan to trek on this route for the first time. From Khandas walk to Belachiwadi village. The Shidi Ghat begins a little ahead of Belachiwadi. This route is the shortest but only by half an hour or so. It is a very dangerous climb especially in the monsoons. Many trekkers have lost their lives by falling from the steep cliffs. At three places, ladders are kept to help climb the steep boulders. There is an exposed move just after climbing the first ladder. To negotiate it one has to look out for two good hand-holds and, holding onto them, stretch the legs apart to cross from one side to the other. Also one has to be careful while climbing this route, especially near the ladders since, at times, there is very little space to stand. This route meets route no.1 just before and at 'Kala Patthar Chowk'.

Bhorgiri route- Bhorgiri is a small village situated on top of the ghats unlike Khandas, so the climb is gentle. Bhorgiri is connected by direct bus from Parel ST depot, Mumbai (230kms - 7hrs). Departure - 10.00pm. Arrival - 4.45am. The return bus from Bhorgiri; Departure - 10.00am. Arrival - 5.15pm. Trekkers can sleep in the bus till the first break of light on requesting the bus-conductor. Bhorgiri is well connected with ST buses from Khed-Rajgurunagar on the Pune-Nasik road. Near the ST stop there is an ancient temple (Koteshwar temple) and some scattered stone idols. About half an hour's walk from the ST stop there is a small and unknown fort of Bhorgiri called Bhorgad with unfinished Buddhist caves.

For Bhimashankar, walk straight on the cart track which lies ahead of the ST stop (6kms - 2.5hrs). On the way there are some markings representing the boundaries of the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary (BWS). One of the marking says 'BWS I, PN 40'. The cart track climbs on a plateau and moves further on till you reach the plateau on which Bhimashankar is situated. Climb this plateau and after some time you will come across a bifurcation on the left going to Gupt-Bhimashankar. It is a 15mins. downhill trek. There is also a small waterfall here. At the bifurcation point the Forest Department has painted a white arrow on a small rock indicating the way to Gupt-Bhimashankar. Avoid the left turn and walk straight for 2kms. to Bhimashankar temple.

Since the Bhorgiri - Bhimashankar trek is not very long, trekkers can visit Koteshwar temple. Bhorgiri fort and caves in Bhorgiri village, and Gupt-Bhimashankar on the way.
Route: Bhorgiri ST stop to Koteshwar temple (5 min.) to Bhorgad and caves (1/2 hr.) to Gupt-Bhimashankar (2 hrs.) to Bhimashankar temple (1/2 hr.)

Note: All the routes mentioned above pass through thick forests of the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary (Area: 130.78 Sq.kms.) There are possibilities of seeing wild animals like Panther, Wild boar, Hyena etc. The most attractive is the 'Great Indian Giant Squirrel' locally called as 'Shekru' which is mainly seen in the Bhimashankar forest. It is hardly a meter long and is found on trees. It can leap as much as 20 feet at a time. If you spot one you are very lucky. So GOOD LUCK!

By ST bus to Bhimashankar- There are direct ST buses for Bhimashankar from Mumbai, Pune, Kalyan etc. The Mumbai bus leaves from Kurla Nehrunagar depot, Kurla (East) at 6.30 am and arrives at 1.40 pm at Bhimashankar.
Note: ST bus timings are subject to change. Please inquire well in advance before planning your trek.

Sight-seeing:-
1) Bhimashankar temple - The temple is the source of the river Bhima, which flows south east and merges with the Krishna river near Raichur. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva / Shankar and hence the name 'Bhimashankar'. From the Pune-Bhimashankar road there are a few steps that lead to the temple. On both sides of the steps there are shops which sell religious Hindu items including religious books and local sweets. The temple is open from 5.30am to 9.30pm. This temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India dedicated to Lord Shiva (5 in Maharashtra). The temple is a composite unit of old and the new structures and is built in the Nagara style of architecture. The idol of Lord Shiva is supposed to be 'Swayambhu' or 'self-evolved'. The sanctum sanctorum has a beautiful cast face of Lord Shiva in 'panchdhaatu' (an alloy made of five metals considered sacred by the Hindus) placed over the lingam. The 'shikhara' of the temple was built around the idol by Maratha leader Nana Phadnavis in the 18th century. There are also some other temples around the main temple. There is a small shrine dedicated to 'Shani' (Saturn) located just opposite the main temple. Outside the 'Shani' temple hangs a huge Portuguese bell, said to be a war relic from the historic victory of the Marathas over the Portuguese forces in 1739 at the 'Battle of Bassein' (present-day Vasai) near Mumbai. The bell was brought by Chimaji Appa from Bassein fort to Bhimashankar.

2) Nagphani Tok (point) / Serpent's hood - This is the highest and the best point in the Bhimashankar area. From the car parking area walk on the cart track to Hanuman temple (1km. - 20mins). Be careful of the monkeys here. Visitors even take their cars up to the temple, but the track is bad. At the entrance of the temple there is a board indicating the direction to Nagphani. There are a few houses around the temple. From the temple it is another 20mins. uphill trek. This place has derived its name from the fact that it looks like the hood of a Cobra. Hence the name Nagphani. (Nag = Snake i.e. Cobra; Phani = Hood). From the point one gets a panoramic view of Padar Killa down below, and the hills and forts of the Matheran range in the background. Walk uphill to the right of the point and one gets a fascinating view of the Bhimashankar temple area and Siddhagad fort (982m - 3223ft) in the background.

3) Gupt-Bhimashankar - It is a 2kms. down hill trek from the temple in thick forest. The trek starts from the right of the cart track that leads to the Pune-Bhimashankar road. The Bhima river which originates from the temple flows to this place, disappears and then suddenly originates further ahead. It said to be the origin of the River Bhima. A small waterfall gushes over a 'lingam' carved out of stone to mark the exact spot. A tiny brass 'Nandi' guards the spot. An arrow to the right indicates the direction.

4) Forest Watch Tower (Machan): This watch tower is located about 15 minutes walk from the Mansarovar motel. The trail is called 'Machan trail'. It is erected by the Forest Department to view animals.

Night camping:-
1) Mansarovar Motel - This place which was initially run by the MTDC is situated about half a km. from the Bhimashankar temple and is on the road to Pune. The place is the best, reasonable and has a good restaurant. Outside food is not allowed. There are two rooms for 4 persons, four rooms for 6 persons and two rooms for 10 persons. For advance booking contact - Vivek Builders, 12-A, Laxmi Narayan shopping centre, 1st floor, opp. S.M.Lal college, Anandilal Poddar Road, Malad (East), Mumbai - 400 097. Phone - 28835000, 28835577, 28815000. Check-in and check-out time - 10.00am.

2) Forest rest house - There are two rest houses for 4 persons each. For advance booking contact - Deputy Conservator of forests (Wildlife), Western region, New P.M.T building, Swargate, Shankarset road, Pune - 411 042. Phone - 9520-447165.

3) Bhorgiri rest house - For large groups. No booking office and phone number.

4) Dharamshalas - Many of them.

5) Villager's houses - The villagers provide rooms at a low cost buy they can be dirty. Some of them even cook food for the visitors at a low cost.

Special Note: There is a fair held in February-March every year and the place gets very crowded. Confirm your bookings early if you intend to stay during this period.
Besides this if trekkers have their own tent they can camp at the flat open space near the car parking area. But it can be windy here even in summer.

Time to see area: The entire area can be comfortably seen in 3 hours time.

Food: 'Shiv Restaurant' of the MTDC resort is good and also reasonable. It serves pure vegetarian food only. There are many other small roadside 'dhabas'. Please note that throughout the Bhimashankar area, only vegetarian food is served.

Water: MTDC resort or any road side tea-stall.

Trekking season: Mid-June to February. But the temple and the sites around can be visited throughout the year if you plan to go with a vehicle or by ST bus.


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HARISHCHANDRAGAD
Harishchandragad is a massif hill-fort of the Sahyadris, in the 'Malshej Ghat' region. It is very famous among trekkers, hikers and nature-lovers. It is referred as 'A Jewel in Mother Nature's Necklace'. The irregular tableland at the top is about 5km. long. The most interesting part of the fort is the fabulous 'Konkan Kada' with a drop of about 2000 feet in the Konkan.

Height above mean sea level: 1424 meters (4671 feet)

Trekking routes:
There are 6 known trekking routes to this giant fort. There are a few yet to be explored. If one wishes to explore a new route, then one can hire a villager. Mentioned below are the 6 routes:-
From Khubi: Khubi is a small village on the Kalyan - Junnar road 4km. ahead of Malshej Ghat. From Kalyan ST Depot (just outside the railway station in the west) catch a ST bus to Junnar, Ambejogai, Nagar, Pathardi or any bus going further and get down at 'Khubi phata' (90km - 3hrs). First bus leaves at 5.30am. Trekkers can also reach Khubi phata from Murbad by jeep or tempo. From Khubi phata turn left, if you are facing Madh village and start walking towards Khireshwar village (5km - 1hr). The road is above the dam built on stones. To the right of the dam there is a huge man-made lake called Khireshwar lake. In the village there is a Nageshwar temple of the Yadav era. It has beautiful stone carvings and is worth a look. Khireshwar can also be trekked from Madh via villages Gawarwadi and Kolhewadi. If trekkers reach Khireshwar late and plan to camp there, then the local school (ashram patshala) is the best. There is also a small hotel in Khireshwar.

From Khireshwar, there are two routes to the fort i.e. route nos. 1&2.
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Route No.1: via 'Kalsha col' / Junnar darwaja route - Approx. 4 hours trek.
From the temple in Khireshwar, one should walk ahead to the ashram school and then to a dry well. From the dry well turn left and you are on your way. Start climbing to the col keeping the Kalsha hill on the left. After a forested patch a steep gully climbs up, which has steps, but in very bad condition. Halfway up one sees a Shivling carved out in a rock. The gully ends on a plateau from where the natural orifice or 'nedhe' can be seen. Keep climbing till you reach the path coming from Tolar Khind, near the 'Bale Killa' of the fort.

Route No.2: via 'Tolar Khind' - Approx. 4 hours trek.
The route from Khireshwar to Tolar Khind is easy (1.5hrs). Just before Tolar Khind there is a small water tank. After a flat walk from Khireshwar two routes bifurcate. The one on the left requires a bit of rock-climbing. Both the routes meet in the forest just before the water tank. The route from Tolar Khind to the Bale Killa is a little tricky especially in the monsoons. One must climb or descend with the help of the niches in the rocks. Now railings are placed at the rocky patch. After crossing the railings one reaches the plateau of the fort from where 7 humps have to be crossed to reach the temple (2.5hrs). There are white and red markings all along the path. During the monsoons the fort is covered with fog and so one can miss the path easily. There is a rock-cut tiger image carved at Tolar Khind ('Wagh-shilap' in Marathi).

Route No.3: From Pachnai - Approx. 2 hours trek.

This is an easy route to the top i.e. from Pachnai to Harishchandreshwar temple on the fort. The trek is along the Mangalganga river, which originates on the fort. Pachnai can be reached by a direct bus from Rajur (30km.) / Akole or can also be trekked from Kumshet (4hrs.), whereas Kumshet is another 4 hours trek away from Ratangad, another fort, famous among trekkers, in the Bhandardara region. Trekkers can plan a visit to both the forts in a span of 3-4 days and make their trek enjoyable. Many such combinations make an exciting trek. If trekkers plan to stay at Bhandardra (MTDC Resort) or at the Government Forest Rest House at Shendi, then they can trek to the fort from Pachnai. ST buses are available from Bhandardra / Shendi to Rajur (20km). Provisions for this trek can be bought from the few hotels or MTDC resort at Bhandardara. From Mumbai, Kasara, Igatpuri or Ghoti, trekkers can board a ST bus to Sangamner or Akole and alight at Rajur, and then board another bus to Pachnai.

Route No.4: From Kothale - Approx. 4 hours trek.
This route joins route no.2 at Tolar Khind. From Kothale a cart track reaches the base of the mountain from where an easy climb leads to Tolar Khind. Kothale can be reached by ST bus from Rajur (19km.) or from Akole (46km.) via Kotul (23km). There are also jeeps plying between Kothale and Rajur. Kothale can also be trekked from Ambit on the Rajur - Pachnai road. Ambit to Shisvad on a cart track, then trek to the Rajur - Kothale road, 2km. short of Kothale. Then follow the tar road to Kothale.

Route No.5: via 'Sadhale Ghat & Bail Ghat' - Approx. 8 hours trek.
This is a long and difficult route to Harishchandragad. On the Kalyan-Junnar road get down at Savarne village, at the base of Malshej Ghat. It is 13km. before Khubi phata. From Savarne, trek upto Belpada (3hrs.). From Belpada one gets a beautiful view of the semi-circular wall of Konkan Kada, which is worth a photograph or two. Then proceed to Kelewadi in the north. Climb up the ghats and to the lower plateau via Sadhale Ghat (3hrs.). From here, climb up to the upper plateau via the Bail Ghat, a path of stones and boulders. The route then leads up to a gully on the trail that leads to the Konkan Kada.

Route No.6: Nalichi Wat route - Approx.10 hours trek.
This is the longest and the most difficult route to Harishchandragad. It is rarely used and not well defined. Rock-climbing equipment is required at some places. This steep climb is strictly recommended only for experienced trekkers (rock-climbers). Reach Belpada as in route 4. It is advisable to reach the village in the evening and spend the night there so that one can start the trek early next morning at the break of light and reach the fort by evening. Trekkers can stay at a villager's house or can camp in the open. From Belpada, the route is slippery and there are a few monkey-fig trees on the way. The path reaches up to the top of the Konkan Kada.

Note:- 1) Route No. 1, 2, 3 & 4 are common and usually used by trekkers; no.5 by experienced trekkers and no. 6 only by experienced rock-climbers. 2) Enquire about train and ST bus timings well in advance. There are very few buses on the Akole - Pachnai and Akole - Kothale sector.

Sightseeing:
1) Harishchandreshwar Mahadev temple - This beautiful temple stands opposite the peak of Taramati. The temple is a lofty structure, about 50 feet high. The western side is carved into three irregular caves. Two caves host the images of Vithal-Rakhumai respectively. Here another temple called 'Kashitirth' is located which has been carved out from a single huge rock. It has entrances from all four sides. On the main entrance there are sculptures of faces. These are faces of the guards of the temple.
Scattered all around are scared domes, cisterns, fourteen Vishnu idols and one of Narsimha, which is exceptionally beautiful.

2) Peaks - There are two peaks atop the fort i.e. Taramati and Rohidas. Taramati is the taller of the two (about 150 metres above the temple). In the north one can see Kalsubai, Ajoba and the Igatpuri range. In the south one can see Nane Ghat, Malshej Ghat road, Jivdhan etc. In fact Taramati is the tallest part of the fort at 4671 feet. From the temple walk towards Tolar Khind and then turn right. A forested path through Karvi trees reaches the base of Taramati, from where it an uphill trek. A total of 30 minutes easy trekking. From Taramati one can walk west to Rohidas in 15 minutes. There is a Shivling on the top of Taramati, whereas nothing on Rohidas.

3) Caves ('Leni' in Marathi) - There are nine caves at the base of Taramati (carved between 8th - 11thcentury AD). There are sculptures of Ganpati carved on the lintels of the doors of caves 1 and 2. In cave no. 3 (Ganesh cave) there is a beautiful 6 feet tall Ganesh idol. The river Mangalganga originates from here. The remaining caves are mostly unfinished. Trekkers can camp overnight in one of the caves. There is a natural cave on the northwestern side of the fort, to the right of Kokan Kada. It is about 30 feet deep. There may be many more undiscovered caves around.

4) Kedareshwar cave - It is on the banks of the Mangalganga. It rests upon four pillars and holds a huge Shivling in the middle, sunk in about 4 feet deep ice-cold water. A worshipper who wishes to perform 'Pradakshina' has to walk around the Shivling in the cold water. In monsoon it is very difficult to reach this cave, as a huge stream flows across the way. There is a cave inside and outside Kedareshwar cave which can also be used for camping.

5) Bale Killa (citadel) - It is to the eastern side of the fort. There are 4 dry tanks, few plinths, a temple and dilapidated fort walls.

6) Konkan Kada - A half hour walk behind the Harishchandreshwar temple takes one to Konkan Kada, the best part of the fort. It is a huge semi-circular rock-cliff of about 2000 feet straight drop in the Konkan plains. A light object thrown will float for some time in the air, defying gravity, due to high air pressure. This cliff is a challenge to rock-climbers and very few have climbed it. It is such a fascinating site that a youth from Pune fell in love with it and jumped off from here. A monument has being built here in his memory, but it no longer exists. The beautiful sunset from Konkan Kada should not be missed. Kokan Kada was climbed for the first time in December 1985 by the group 'IIT, Bombay'. It has been accessed by rock-climbers only twice till now. Members of Pinnacle group recently ascended this cliff, after 12 years it was ascended for first time. Now adventure groups in Mumbai have started 'Rappelling' programs from Konkan Kada.

Time to see fort: 3 hours

Night camping: Caves in the Harishchandreshwar temple complex (best) and 9 caves at the base of Taramati peak. The fort is very crowded on Saturday, Sunday and other holidays; so if you arrive in the evening it may be difficult to get a cave for overnight stay.

Water: A tank atop the fort in the Harishchandreshwar Mahadev temple complex has nice cool water.

Trekking season: Mid-June to February. However in the monsoons one should be careful of the tricky patches near Tolar Khind. Junnar darwaja, Sadhle ghat and Nalichi wat routes should strictly not be attempted in the monsoons.


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