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Jivdhan

Posted by itrekz on July 2, 2008

Region: Malshej ghat
District:
Pune
Height: 3759 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Duration: Two days

Approach

  • Vaishakhare-Naneghat-Ghatghar-Jivdhan
  • Vaishakhare-Naneghat-Khadaparsi-Jivdhan
  • Junnar-Ghatghar-Jivdhan
  • Bhorande Nal-Ghatghar-Jivdhan

Sights to see: Naneghat cave and Ranjan, Steep fall into the Konkans from the Ghatghar plateau, small cave at the base of Khadaparsi pinnacle.

On Jivdhan fort: Kalyan Darwaja, Beautiful rock cut steps, Old Granary that still carries the ashes of the grains burnt in 1818, Jivai Devi temple, other remnants

Water availability:
Million dollar water as they utter! Wonderful potable water tanks on the top of Jivdhan fort provide water all round the year. One can fill the water bottles from Naneghat or Ghatghar village. No water in between for about 2 hours unless one reaches the top.

Shelter:
One can stay on Jivdhan in the outer yards of Granary if at all required. However, there is no other roofed shelter on the fort and it is feasible to stay at Ghatghar or in the cave of Naneghat.

Description:
Jivdhan was a very impregnable and majestic fort in those times and it is clearly evident by the sheer cliffs and vertical walls that render invaluable services to it. The Granary is worth a see and water tanks and other ruins on the fort suggest that it was a strategic fort in those days. The rock cut steps along the vertical cliffs is a treat and the magnificent view of the plains and the Khadaparsi pinnacle make is one of our favourites to visit time and again.

On top there is a small temple of Jivai Devi and other ruins besides the granary. The fort walls are still standing at some places and the bastions has given away under the bludgeoning from British canon way back in 1818.

The fort offers magnificent view of Khadaparsi pinnacle, Naneghat, Hadsar, Chavan, Manikdoh waters, Durg, Dhakoba, Gorakhgad-Machhindragad, Siddhagad; ofcourse not in monsoons.

Routes:

Vaishakhare-Naneghat-Ghatghar-Jivdhan
The route is quite simple and well marked upto Naneghat. On reaching Naneghat, one has to walk straight towards Ghatghar village. It is a one hours’ walk from Naneghat cave. From Ghatghar a mud trail takes us to the base of the Jivdhan massif where rock cut steps greets us to scale the cliff.

A flight of around 72 rock cut steps takes us to the base of a small patch where the steps have been blasted during the 1818 raid by the British. However, there are small rock-cut niches along the way to make the climb easy. One must however be very careful during the monsoons as it can be slippery. After negotiating this patch a further flight of good steps takes us to the top of the fort in 15 minutes.

Time:
Naneghat to Ghatghar village is 45 minutes walk. It further takes 1 hour and 30 minutes from Ghatghar village.
Grade:
Medium

Junnar-Ghatghar-Jivdhan
One can also reach Ghatghar from Junnar. Direct buses ply regularly and also there are regular jeep services available. The route from Ghatghar remains the same as described above.

Bhoranda Nal-Ghatghar-Jivdhan
Bhoranda Nal is a very interesting and enjoyable route scaling up the plateau from Bhorande/Fagane village. One can alight at Bhorande village (68 km from Kalyan 0r 6 km before Moroshi on Kalyan-Ale Phata road).

From Bhorande village a mud trail proceeds obscurely and takes one to an upper plateau within an hour. The route comes and ends near the mouth of a stream. One has to follow this stream and ascend along it. The Nal is boulder ridden and can be quite slippery to negotiate in monsoons on certain patches. It is very enjoyable nevertheless.

The total ascend take around 3 hours. From the top plateau one can see Jivdhan in front. A 15 mins walk will take one to Ghatghar village. The route ahead remains the same as described above.

Time: 3 hours
Grade:
Medium

Vaishakhare-Naneghat-Khadaparsi-Jivdhan
From Naneghat cave reach the plateau and turn left. Walk straight towards the Khadaparsi pinnacle. In a short while, say around 20-30 minutes walk we come across a Bungalow built on the plateau. From here a path goes straight to the base of Jivdhan rock wall, albeit through thick forest. One has to do a bit of searching to keep on the right track.

In another 30 minutes we come across rock cut steps leading to the upper ledge. From here a 5 minutes walk to our right takes us to the base of the Khadaparsi pinnacle. A nice cave is carved at the base of Khadaparsi pinnacle. Magnificent view of the surrounding region.

From Khadaparsi straight walk of 10 minutes along the trail takes one through a stair of rock cut steps to a narrow gully. A simple climb through this gully takes on to the top of Jivdhan fort via Kalyan Darwaja.

Time: 2 hours from Naneghat caves
Grade: Easy

Note: One must be very careful while visiting Jivdhan in monsoons. Primarily because the steps can get slippery, especially via the Ghatghar route the patch can be a bit tricky. Also the blinding fog can easily disorient the trekkers!

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Mandangad Fort

Posted by itrekz on June 3, 2008

Mandangad Fort

Region: Mandangad
District: Ratnagiri
Height:
1606 feet
Difficulty: Simple
Duration: Two and half hours to visit the fort

Approach:

  • Mumbai-Panvel : 45 Km
  • Panvel-Pen : 25 Km
  • Pen-Wadkhal : 7 Km
  • Wadkhal-Nagothane : 23 Km
  • Nagothane-Kolad : 21 Km
  • Kolad-Lonera : 32 Km
  • Lonera-Mandangad : 23 Km

By road, this rounds up to a total distance of around 180 km from Mumbai.

Sights to see: Mandangad fort

Water availability: Potable water is not available on the fort. Carry your own stock.

Accommodation: Mandangad fort provides good accommodation in the Ganesh temple atop.

Description:
Mandangad is a Taluka place in Ratnagiri district. Overlooking the small town of Mandangad is a two peaked hill fort also known by the same name i.e Mandangad. Mandangad fort is has quite an obscure existence and doesn’t find much of a mention in history books. In fact, it is one of the very old forts in the region with data suggesting that Mandangad was built in 12th century during the reins of the Shilahar dynasty.

The visit to the fort takes not more than three hours from Mandangad village. The hillock is quite densely forested and a mud trail winds up the fort in one hour through these thickets. A lake called as ‘Thorla’ Talav (Thorla means Bigger in Marathi), a recently renovated Ganesh temple standing next to the Throla Talav, a Darga, a magazine, tanks, few ruins of bastions and remains of fort walls are the only structures that one can see atop Mandangad. However, the recently renovated Ganesh temple stands majestically on the small hump near the Lake is a beautiful place to stay, if one wishes to stay on the fort. From the southern end bastion, one can sight the hill fort of Palgad standing opposite to Mandangad.

The history of this fort is very much speculative and obscure.

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Anjarle, Suvarnadurga, Kanakdurga, Goa and Fattegad

Posted by itrekz on June 3, 2008

Anjarle:
After visiting Bankot fort and Velas, we now head towards Harnai via Anjarle. Anjarle is a small village embracing the shores of Konkan coast and is famous for its Kadyavarcha Ganpati at the edge of the cliff facing the horizons over Arabian Sea. This ancient and magnificent Ganesh temple was originally constructed using wooden pillars in around 1150. Later it was renovated during 1768 to 1780.

The temple at Anjarle is considered to be Jagrut devasthan and has one of those rare Ganesh idols with his trunk curved towards the right side (Ujvya sondecha Ganpati). The cliff offers a fabulous view of the landscape including the Suvarnadurg Fort. Beside the Ganesh temple there is a small but beautiful temple of Lord Shiva and a nearby pond with turtles and number if species of fishes.

Anjarle is situated at a distance of 16 km from Bankot village. It is at a distance of 24 km and can also be reached from Dapoli. Dapoli-Gimhavane-Asud Pul (bridge)-Saldure-Palande-Khem-Anjarle. After a brief visit to the sacred temple at Anjarle, we continue on our journey towards Harnai.

Goa fort

  • Region: Dapoli
  • District: Ratnagiri
  • Height: Sea fort (At sea level)
  • Difficulty: Simple
  • Duration: one hour to visit the fort

Approach:

* Bankot-Anjarle-Harnai: 23 km
* Dapoli-Harnai: 16 km
* Anjarle-Harnai: 7 km

Total distance is 230 km from Mumbai. Look Bankot fort for Mumbai-Bankot approach.

Sights to see: Goa fort

Water availability: Potable water is not available on the fort. Carry your own stock from the village.

Accomodation:
Harnai, Dapoli, Anjarle

Description:
On the way to Harnai port from Anjarle village, we come across Goa fort on the west. The fort is actually right on the edge of the land with the Arabian Sea lashing its waves against the west face of Goa fort. Unlike the other two forts: Kanakdurga and Fattegad, Goa forts is pretty much large and offers some dilapidated ruins signifying of its past. Spread over an area of approximately three hectares, the fort is squarish in shape.

As seen with Bankot fort, a dry moat surrounds the fort Goa on its sides. The Mahadarwaja faces the north and tastes the salinity brought by the indenting water body from this direction. The arch way of the Mahadarwaja is now blocked with blocks of Jambhya stones. A hanuman idol stands on the right side wall of the Mahadarwaja. On either side of the Mahadarwaja, the two platforms near the base bear carvings of two tigers (Sharabha or Vyal). On the right side of the Mahadarwaja is Gandbherund with the four elephants that it has captured. The compound name is made of ganda the mighty, and bherunda meaning “two headed”.

The land facing eastern side of the fort accommodates another entrance, which is now presently the only gateway to Goa fort. On entering the fort through this entrance, we climb up a small elevated hump. This is the Balekilla of Goa fort. The Balekilla is devoid of any structures with exceptions of few ruins and a water tank. Other than soldiers Devdi, a pond and few other architectural remnants, nothing much exists in Goa fort now.

The history of Goa fort is as obscure as its origin.

Kanakdurga and Fattegad

  • Region: Dapoli
  • District: Ratnagiri
  • Height: Sea fort (At sea level)
  • Difficulty: Simple
  • Duration: Half an hour to visit the fort

Approach:

* Bankot-Anjarle-Harnai: 23 km
* Dapoli-Harnai: 16 km
* Anjarle-Harnai: 7 km

Total distance is 230 km from Mumbai. Look Bankot fort for Mumbai-Bankot approach.

Sights to see: Kanakdurga and Fattegad fort

Water availability: Potable water is not available on the fort. Carry your own stock from the village.

Accommodation: Harnai, Dapoli, Anjarle

Description:
The origin of these forts is unknown in the pages of history, but it is speculated that these forts must be built as a watch tower for Suvarnadurga. Further ahead of Goa fort on the Anjarle-Harnai road lies Kanakdurga and Fattegad. Fattegad fort, originally spanning nearly a hectare in area is non-existent now and in its place is a well established fisherman’s colony.

Kanakdurga fort is the extreme end of the strip of land jutting out in the sea next to Harnai port. A flight of steps leads to the top of the fort. A few water tanks, which now are obsolete and crumbled fortifications is all that indicate of Kanakdurga being a fort earlier. On an elevated hump inside Kanakdurga stand a Lighthouse and the quarters for the caretaker.

Suvarnadurga:

  • Region: Dapoli
  • District: Ratnagiri
  • Height: Sea fort (At sea level)
  • Difficulty: Simple
  • Duration: Two hours to visit the fort

Approach:

* Bankot-Anjarle-Harnai: 23 km
* Dapoli-Harnai: 16 km
* Anjarle-Harnai: 7 km

There is no jetty as such for Suvarnadurga fort and one land directly on the sandy beach of the rocky isle on which the fort is build.

Total distance is 230 km from Mumbai. Look Bankot fort for Mumbai-Bankot approach.

Sights to see: Suvarnadurga fort

Water availability: Potable water is not available on the fort. Carry your own stock from the village.

Accommodation: Harnai, Dapoli, Anjarle

Description:
Suvarnadurga fort is a sea fort surround from all side by the lashing waves of the Arabian Sea. Suvarna means Gold and as its name dictates this was really one of the golden feathers in the cap of Marathas. As seen with the other forts in this region, a dry moat surrounds the fort of Suvarnadurga too. The Mahadarwaja of the Suvarnadurga, like most other sea forts, is not visible until very close to the fort. There is a small construction lying on the shores of the rocky isle, which probably hints of it being a watch tower in those years when Suvarnadurga was in its blossom days.

The Mahadarwaja of Suvarnadurga is on the eastern wall of the fort and faces northwards. The main entrance is now blocked with the overgrowth of thorny bushes of ‘Bor’; however one can enter the fort through a small entry from one of the Devdis. Near the Mahadarwaja is a Hanuman idol carved in the wall and one of the leading steps bears a carved turtle on its shelf. The fort is now densely occupied by the thorny thickets.

The fort has many bastions and two Darwajas. As described earlier, the Mahadarwaja faces the east while another Darwaja, the Chor Darwaja faces the west. Near the Chor Darwaja on the west is a small depression which gives an impression of being a shallow pond. There are steps leading down from the Chor Darwaja, on the west face of the fort.

Near the fort walls, just as one walks past the Mahadarwaja of Suvarnadurga fort, one comes across a well. However, most of the water tanks and reservoirs on Suvarnadurga cater potable water only till months of November-December and are dry in the summer months, so one has to carry their own stock of potable water.

There are small rooms constructed under the number of bastions that Suvarnadurga harbours, quite peculiar to this fort.. The fort tapers to wards the south and from this point, one can have a fabulous view of Kanakdurga fort jutting out in the Arabian Sea. There are two granaries and a dilapidated house occupying the central part of Suvarnadurga. The entrance of the Wada is still intact with few ruins inside the house.

A brief history about the fort:
Think Suvarnadurga and one immediately visualizes the revered name of Kanhoji Angre, popularly known as “Samudratla Shivaji”. However, much before this era, some historians speculate the origin of Suvarnadurga to date back till the Satvahana era. Another view on this elucidates that the fort was built by Adilshahi. It was later conquered and refurbished by Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj in 1660. It was also a base for the Maratha navy ship-building facility. Suvarnadurga fort was the base for Kanhoji Angre who was the chief of Maratha Navy. Kanhoji Angre spent his childhood in Suvarnadurga fort, of which he was later the Governor. He set up powerful fleet of warships to protect the western coast of Konkan from British, French, Dutch and Portuguese attacks. Suvarnadurga fort is a landmark in Konkan. Following death of Kanhoji, Tulaji Angre took charge of Suvarnadurga. However, the headstrong attitude of Tulaji, saw the Angre’s disputing with Peshwas. The Peshwas later sought help of British to gain control over Suvarnadurga. In exchange for this service, the British kept fort Bankot with themselves as an honorarium and handed over Suvarnadurga to the Peshwas.

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Bankot fort and Velas village

Posted by itrekz on June 3, 2008

Bankot fort and Velas village

  • Alias: Fort Victoria, Himmatgad, Mandargiri, Mand Gor
  • Region: Mandangad
  • District: Ratnagiri
  • Height: Sea fort (Slightly above sea level)
  • Difficulty: Simple
  • Duration: Two hours to visit the fort


Approach:

  • Mumbai-Panvel : 45 Km
  • Panvel-Pen : 25 Km
  • Pen-Wadkhal : 7 Km
  • Wadkhal-Nagothane : 23 Km
  • Nagothane-Kolad : 21 Km
  • Kolad-Lonera : 32 Km
  • Lonera-Mandangad : 23 Km
  • Mandangad-Bankot : 30 Km
  • One can also combine Bankot with visits to Shrivardhan and Harihareshwar. If one chooses, one can visit Shrivardhan and Harihareshwar and cross over the creek to Bankot via jetty. The jetty services are very frequent and continue till dark.

By road, this rounds up to a total distance of around 203 km from Mumbai.

Sights to see: Pan Buruj, Bankot fort, Velas village, Olive Riddle Turtle breeding beach, Kelshi village (Mahalaxmi temple and Aade beach). The ruins of Nana Phadnis house in Velas is still dictating the tales of the yesteryears while a newly erected museum near the same caters more information regarding the same.

Water availability: No source of potable water available on Bankot fort

Accommodation: Velas village

Description:
Although a very beautiful fort dotting the coastline of the Konkan strip, the fort of Himmatgad, now popularly known as Bankot (from the name of nearby village) is not a destination thronged by the tourists. There are couple of reasons attributable to its secluded status. One is that there is very little awareness and historical significance associated with Bankot and other is absence of any major township in the nearby areas contributing to lack of quality accommodation facilities. However, there is no denying that Bankot is a very beautiful fort and surely worth a visit. Bankot, the base village, is a well to do township with a predominantly Muslim population.

Velas:
From Bankot village, proceed towards Velas village along the road which runs parallel to the coastline. Velas, the birth place of very diplomatic Nana Phadnis of the Peshwa is a very tranquil village merely two km from Bankot. The residence of Nana Phadnis, even though now in ruins, still bears testimony to the great person that Nana was. Calm beach and the perfect village setting make it surely worth a visit.

There is an old temple of Shri Bhairi-Rameshwar and in this temple all twelve months water is made available taking the benefit of favorable geographical conditions. A statue of Nana Phadnis is present outside his house. In Velas Mahalakshmi temple and Nana Phadnis house are the places to visit.

Velas, now also is a breeding place for the endangered species of turtle: The Olive Riddle turtles. The beach of Velas sees a nice haven for breeding of these endangered species and once can really have a close look at these beautiful little creatures and learn more about these. Also the wind scooping off rocks on the shores of the Arabian Sea is a peculiarity in itself and a treat to eye.

One the way towards Velas from Bankot village, one comes across a small dilapidated fortification (Bastion like structure). This is not be mistaken as Bankot fort. This is known as Pan Buruj and was built by the Siddis of the Janjire Mehroob (Janjira) fame. Pan Buruj is merely an extension of Bankot fort serving as a watch guard.

Bankot fort:
Further ahead, a short walk and one reaches the Bankot fort. Bankot fort now doesn’t have any source of potable water and it is best to carry your stock of water on visit. There is a well trodden cart track leading to the Bankot fort from the village within 30 minutes. Near the entrance there is a Gajanan Temple and a dry well.

Bankot is a square shaped fort. On the sides of Bankot fort, there is a dry moat (Revni) dug out in the Jambhya stone. Jambhya stone is peculiar type of stone adorning a purple shade and peculiarly it is incapable of storing water as the water invariable percolates through it owing to its much porous nature.

The main entrance (Mahadarwaja) of the fort is north-facing with a well sculpted arch and carvings. Watch guards dug out (Devdya) align on both sides of the Mahadarwaja with some pits being dug out in the right Devdi. On the left, there are steps leading towards Nagarkhana while there is an underground storey and a tunnel on the right. A Maruti idol in the centre stands deserted now. On the west, there is a small entrance (Darwaja) leading to a Bastion on the exterior of the fortifications. A deep well (now dry and filled) occupied the centre of this bastion earlier and the adjacent water tanks too are dry and obsolete now. One can leave the Buruj via a small exit that leads to the surrounding moat and a beautiful “Revni” lying nearby.

Bankot fort has an interesting connection with Sir Arthur Mallet of the Arthur seat point fame at Mahabaleshwar. On a marine expedition that he undertook from Mumbai to Mahabaleshwar via Bankot in His wife Ms. Sophia and his young daughter Elena drowned in the Savitri river creek near Bankot. Their graves, marked by a platform and vertical pillars with marble inscriptions are near this fort and can be seen just as one exits the bastion. However, these are in ruins now. Post this tragic event. Sir Arthur Mallet would often spend his time recollecting the memories of his wife and daughter sitting at the edge of the Savitri river valley atop Mahabaleshwar. This point gradually became famous and is now known as Arthur’s seat point.

A brief history about the fort:
Although a consistent history about Bankot fort is still eluding us and the origin of this fort is still speculative, a brief history can still be traced about this fort. There is a mention of this fort being called as Man Gor or Mandargiri in the 1st century A.D. The fort was known to be under the control of Adilshahi and later in 1548, the Portuguese took control over it. Later, Marathas, under the able leadership of the great Kanhoji Angre took control over Bankot. They rechristened the fort as Himmatgad.

A misunderstanding between Tulaji Angre, who over took the charge of Himmatgad after Kanhoji’s death, and the Peshwas led to the latter seeking help of the British army to gain control over Himmatgad. It is around the same time that the joint forces of Peshwa and British also charged over Suvarnadurga which was a stronghold of the Angre’s. After gaining control of Himmatgad, the British renamed it as Fort Victoria.

However, the British motive of seeing Bankot emerge as a profitable and major business port did not realize and owing to the same they handed the fort back to the Peshwas.

Nothing much of significance ever took place on Bankot and neither does it bear witness to any epoch making battle or strategies in the history. Maybe owing to this, the fort is now standing in seclusion. Also lack of awareness about it see Bankot hidden somewhere in the shadows of Harihareshwar, Shreevardhan, Mandangad, Dapoli and other such more popular tourist destinations.

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Naneghat, Nanacha Angtha

Posted by itrekz on May 24, 2008

Also known as Nanacha Anghta

Region: Malshej ghat
District: Thane
Height: 2750 feet
Difficulty: Simple
Duration: One day, can be combined with Jivdhan fort in Two days

Approach

* Vaishakhare-Nanetal-Naneghat
* Vaishakhare-Naneghat
* Ghatghar-Naneghat

Sights to see:
Rock cut cave with Bramhinical inscriptions on the walls, ceiling and floor, old toll collection rock pot (Ranjan) at the top of the ghat, series of rock cut water cisterns near the caves, view from the top of the Naneghat pinnacle, Jivdhan fort .

The view offered from the top of the pinnacle is just one of the best in the Sahyadris. One can sight fort of Jivdhan and Vanarlingi pinnacle in the front. To the right lies the tallest peak in this range, fort Dhakoba. The strong winds blowing atop will be one of the strongest you have ever experienced and the view from the top is just fabulous.

Water availability:
The pass is charming and offers good shelter through out the year, however, the water cisterns near the caves does not hold potable water after the month of January/February. Although there is a perennial water tank about 10-15 minutes below the cave near Shingru pathar, the distance and steep gradient doesn’t warrant it to much of a use. So it is best to carry adequate stock of water when visiting in summer seasons.


Accommodation:

The cave atop Naneghat is one of the best rock-cut caves one can see and offers a good shelter through out the year.

Description:
Naneghat or Nanacha Angtha is a name, which just pops up in ones mind when one is looking for a nice weekend outing. As one drives down the Kalyan-Ahmednagar highway, one just cannot miss a prominent thumb shaped pinnacle offering an imposing façade just at the beginning of Malshej ghat, a very popular picnic spot for Mumbaikars in monsoons. This pinnacle is called as Nanacha Anghta due to it peculiar shape resembling a thumb. And the trail, which winds it way up once served as a busy trade route linking up country with the seaports of north Konkan.

A treasure house of history, Naneghat pass lies in ruins. It served as a busy trade route connecting Kalyan, Nalasopara with the upcountry. Its not just an ancient pass, with its pristine beauty preserved, it’s also an incredible monument steeped in ancient Indian history.

Cut through a narrow gorge in the Sahyadri range, in the Western Ghats, during the reign of Satvahanas (236 BC to 230 AD), the Naneghat pass once served as a busy trade route linking up country with the seaports of north Konkan.

Located about 30 km west of the historic town of Junnar in Pune district, Naneghat now lies in ruins. The caves, ravaged by nature and unmindful visitors alike, contain inscriptions and house a unique statue gallery of Satvahanas and other stone pieces of archaeological importance.

The name Naneghat also has an interesting history. In ancient days, when this pass was a busy trade route, the toll was collected in the form of coins (known as nane in Marathi). The commuter would drop in a coin or nane in a large stone container (called as Ranjan in Marathi) which is place at the mouth of the ghat; hence the name.

Routes

Ghatghar-Naneghat approach is the easiest and most convenient approach. Access to Naneghat is very accessible and one just has to walk 5 km on foot, crossing rivulets and paddy fields, from Ghatghar, the last road head 25 km from Junnar.

Approach via Vaishakhare-Nanetal-Naneghat is the most commonly trodden route for trekkers from Mumbai. From Konkan side, to climb up a forest path from Nanetal hamlet near Vaishakhare on Mumbai-Ahmednagar highway in Thane district before reaching the pass.

As we intend to climb up the pass, we approach it from Vaishakhare village. However, late night buses won’t halt at Vaishakhare, but for generous requests made to the conductor of the bus. Or else one has to alight at Tokavade village and walk about 6-7 km up to a milestone indicating the way towards Naneghat.

One has to ascend gradually following a cattle trail which leads right up to the base of the massive pinnacle. It takes about 2 and half to 3 hours to reach the cave, which is carved out in the belly of the huge pinnacle, i.e. Nanacha Anghta.

A sharp serpentine ascent from the base village, known as Nanetal, brings one to a rock cut water tank after a couple of hours trek. This place is locally known as Shingru pathar. The tank holds potable water all round the year. A steep ascent from here for about 30-45mins brings us to the top of the pass.

Naneghat cave description:
The large cave is full of inscriptions and a gallery with sculptures of Satvahanas. On two walls of the cave is an inscription on Naganika engraved in old Brahmi characters, in the then prevalent Prakrit language. But the record is very much mutilated and has been interpreted by epigraphist with conjectures and speculative combinations, giving rise to different views.

Near the caves is a series of rock cut water tanks, which holds potable water only up to the month of December, hence it is prudent to fill our bottles at the earlier tank. A brief walk takes us to narrow gorge, just two to five meters wide and about 80 meters in length with steps cut into rocks and clustered with caves on both sides.

Further ahead as we pass through the gorge, just at the entrance to Naneghat is a tiny Ganesh cave to the left and opposite it a huge stone pot, believed to be treasury box for collecting toll from incoming goods. The landscape further opens up in a large plateau, Ghatghar plateau.

One can carry packed food like theplas and sandwiches. Also one can order Zunka-Bhakar, which is available at very nominal rates at the village Ghatghar. But however the village is about an hours walk away from the cave. Some enthusiasts don’t mind to cook their own food in the cave. But it leaves behind a carbonized film of soot on the walls of the cave.

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Harishchandragad

Posted by itrekz on May 22, 2008

Region: Malshej ghat
District: Ahmednagar
Height: 4671 feet
Difficulty: Simple
Duration: Two days

Approach

  • Khubi phata-Khireshwar-Tolar khind-Harishchandragad
  • Khubi phata-Khireshwar-Kalshya-Harishchandragad (Rajmarga)
  • Savarne-Belpada-Nalichi wat-Harishchandragad
  • Savarne-Kelewadi-Sadhle ghat-Harishchandragad
  • Pachnai-Harishchandragad


Sights to see: Konkan kada, Kedareshwar temple, Harishchandreshwar temple, Rohidas peak, Taramati peak, Balekilla, Ganesh cave and adjoining series of caves, pushkarni.

One can also see Indravajra, full 360 degree circular rainbow if one is lucky enough in the monsoons on Konkan kada.

The fort is evergreen and can be visited anytime of the year owing to perennial potable water source and good shelter.

Water availability: The water tanks in the temple holds potable water round the year

Accommodation: Harishchandreshwar temple, series of caves

Description:
Surely one of the most trekked forts in the western ghat, Harishchandragad is a destination that caters unbounded joy to beginners and pros alike. Harishchandragad fort has a large spread and it uniquely lies along the boundaries of Ahmednagar, Nasik and Thane districts. Spread over an area of three mile in diameter, the awe-inspiring façade of Konkan kada: The largest and magnificent semicircular concave cliff; leaves the visitor gasping for breath. The view from atop combined with strong winds in one of its kind in the entire Sahyadris and single handedly makes the visit worthy.

Besides Konkan kada, the Kedareshwar cave-temple is another beautiful jewel on this fort of Harishchandragad. The large cave, filled with chilling water till waist level, has a large centrally placed monolithic Shivling and the cave is supported by four stone pillars. Three out of these four pillars of the Kedareshwar cave-temple are now broken.

Although there are numerous small hills on the top of mighty Harishchandragad, Taramati, Rohidas and Balekilla are the three peaks worth visiting. Taramati is the highest point on Harishchandragad and stands overlooking the series of caves. Opposite to Taramati is the Rohidas peak and Balekilla standing next to it. There is nothing much atop Balekilla to suggest of any erstwhile fortifications and glory.

Harishchandreshwar temple is a very age-old temple and now lying precariously, waiting to collapse. The environs and the yard of this temple render a serene ambience to its visitors. There are series of caves in the yard of this temple and few water tanks that houses potable water all round the year. These are the only reliable sources of potable water.

Routes:

Approach via Tolar khind is the most commonly trodden route. The route nowadays, due to route marking and arrow marks is very simple and very difficult to miss. The trek begins from Khubi phata. One can reach Khubi from Mumbai via Kalyan or Pune via Ale phata. From Khubi village, a 5 km walk along the wall of Khireshwar dam leads to Khireshwar village. From Khireshwar village, a well marked trail leads to Tolar khind. It takes approximately 2 hours to reach Tolar khind from Khireshwar village.

The khind is marked by a small shendoor smeared stone bearing the carvings of a lion, implying that it is guarding the pass. From this point, on the left is an easy rock patch, which now for the safety of trekkers has railings along the way for support. An easy negotiation with the rock patch leads to the top of the plateau and a further walk of around one and the half hours across the streams and hills leads to the Harishchandreshwar temple.

Time: 3-4 hours
Grade:
Easy

Rajmarga: This was the main route to reach the top of Harishchandragad, but now the route is in a bad state and a bit tricky. It is not advisable for novices to attempt this route. The route follows the same path up to Khireshwar village. From Khireshwar village, instead of heading along the cart track towards Tolar khind, one must go straight and skirt the slopes of Kalshya dongar. On the way one comes across a very ancient temple built in Hemadpanti architecture. After skirting the Kalshya dongar, the cliff lying in front has to be ascended to follow the Rajmarga. The ascent is quite tricky and full of scree with exposed patches in between and one has to be careful. After a successful ascent, one comes and joins the Tolar khind route after the rock patch.

Time: 3 hours
Grade:
Difficult

Nalichi wat is the most challenging and difficult route to Harishchandragad. The route ascends parallel to the might Konkan kada and must be approached from Belpada (walivare) village. On the Malshej ghat road, just before the ghat begins, is Savarne village. One can reach Belpada from Savarne in 45 minutes after crossing a small hillock on the way. From Belpada, one can see the might Konkan kada in our front. To the left of the Konkan kada are a series of three to four gullies running down from the top. The one of the extreme right is the Nalichi route to Harishchandragad.

The steep ascent and slippery slate rocks with crumbling stones and some difficult rock patches to negotiate makes Nalichi wat one of the most demanding treks in Sahyadris. The rock patches, although easy for a regular trekker, can seem very much difficult for novices. Also the steepness can leave on gasping for breath. Another thing is the tricky route. So this must only be attempted by experienced trekkers and safety measures.

Time: 10 hours
Grade:
Very difficult

Sadhle ghat route is another interesting route to fort Harishchandragad. Sadhle ghat is a steep and ferocious decent from Harishchandragad down to the plains. One has to approach this route from Kelewadi. Kelewadi is half and hours walk from Belpada. Instead of heading towards the Konkan kada from Belpada, one has to continue straight on to reach Kelewadi. From Kelewadi village Sadhle ghat ascends steeply and takes around 3 hours to reach the top. The final patches of the ascent are full of scree and daunting steepness. One usually chooses to descend Harishchandragad via Sadhle ghat rather than ascend it.

From Konkan kada, a walk to extreme right towards Nakta brings one to a small patch. A 15 minutes descent leads to a bifurcation amidst the bushes. The one on the left descends via Nalichi route to Belpada. The straight trail takes one to a plateau after a short while. From this plateau, one route leads to Pachnai village and the other one is a steep descent to Kelewadi via Sadhle ghat, an enjoyable trek.

Time: 4 Hours
Grade:
Moderate

Pachnai route is the simplest route to Harishchandragad. Villagers from Pachnai actually make a good living by selling their products and Jhunka Bhakar atop Harishchandragad every weekend. From Pachnai village, a two and half hours treks leads to the top of the fort Harishchandragad. The Mangalganga River that originates near the Kedareshwar atop Harishchandragad can be traced right up to the plateau and a bifurcation to the right from here descends to the Pachnai village.

Time: 3 Hours
Grade:
Easy

With all the possible avenues on offer for novices and pros alike, Harishchandragad fort with is easy connectivity and numerous options is surely a trekker’s paradise.

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