Basic Info: Harishchandragad is a beautiful hill fort in the Ahmednagar region and a very popular trekking destination. The fort mountain along with, TOLAR KHIND, MALSHEJ GHAT offers a lot for trekkers. The main attraction here is the KONKAN KADA which offers a spectacular view of Konkan. During the rainy season you'd be walking in the clouds on this fort.
Routes: There are 3 popular ways to get to the fort. One via Khireshwar Village, via Nalichi Vaat [Extremely difficult] and the easiest one via Pachnai Village.
The Khireshwar village route is the one that most people prefer as it offers a lot of scenic beauty while trekking. But this route is also a bit time consuming.
From Pune to Khireshwar: Head towards ALEPHATA on NH 50 (Nasikh highway) which is approx 96 kms from Pune. From ALEPHATA turn left to reach a small town named OTUR. From OTUR reach the village KHIRESHWAR which is the base village. THE ROAD FROM OTUR TO KHIRESHWAR IS ALONG THE WATERS OF PIMPALGAON JOGA DAM, here you will have a amazing view of natural beauty.
From Mumbai to Khireshwar: From Mumbai reach KALYAN, From KALYAN head on NH 222 towards MALSHEJ GHAT. After ascending MALSHEJ GHAT there is a diversion for the village KHIRESHWAR. PLZ ASK THE LOCALS FOR THIS DIVERSION.
After reaching the village KHIRESHWAR you can start your trek through TOLAR KHIND.
There are 2 more alternate routes to Harishchandragad, but we would recommend you go via Khireshwar coz this is the best route and offers good view while trekking and is a bit tough.
From Pune to Pachnai Village [Route 2]: The route is as follows Pune-Alephata-Sangamner-Akole-Rajur-Pachnai. Pachnai is the base village where you can park your vehicles and start the trek.
From Mumbai to Pachnai Village [Route 2]: The route is as follows Mumbai-Igatpuri-Ghoti-Bari-Rajur-Pachnai.
Route via PUBLIC TRANSPORT from Pune: Travelers from Pune will have to take a ST[State Transport] Bus from Shivaji Nagar. You can take any bus that goes to Sangamner or Nasik. Get down at Alephata and then take a local bus from Alephata to Khube Phata. Ask the locals for transport options from Alephata.
From Khubi, a 3-4 kilometres walk will take you to the base village of the fort called Khireshwar.
We would recommend that if you have novice trekkers in your group, then you should go via the Pachnai Village. This route is the easiest one and even beginner trekkers should not have any issues. Also take a guide from the village.
Difficulty Level and Other useful tips:
Difficulty level is Moderate.On a scale of 1 to 10, We'd say 8 with 1 being very easy.
Height above sea level: 4710 feet.
It takes approximately 6 hours to reach to the top of Harischandragad where you'd find the Harishchandrareshwar temple. There are many rocky patches and steep climbs enroute. Carry plenty of water, the water tanks on the fort do not offer potable water except monsoons.Take enough care through the forest and rocky climbs.
You should hire a guide from the village if none of your group members have prior experience of trekking at Harishchandragad. The usual charge for a guide is around 200-300 during off-season time. During winter and the monsoon season they charge around 400-500. These guides are also useful for carrying tents/trekking equipment and will also educate you about the History of the fort.
Harishchandragad is the best fort in Maharashtra for camping. There are 2 caves which can be used for camping. These 2 caves can accomodate atleast 100 persons. UNFORTUNATELY, we had to sleep under a man made shelter on our first visit here as we were late to start the trek.
Carry plenty of food and water with you as there's no source of anything edible on the fort.
Also ensure that you gather enough firewood before nightfall as the temperature during winters is really low at Harishchandragad.
Carry enough insulating material to keep you warm. These days the locals provide tents on rent for as low as Rs100 for a person. This is ideal instead of carrying heavy tents the entire way.
If you do not have tents of your own, heres a link with list of place where you can buy tents in pune.
What to see on the fort:
- KEDARESHWAR CAVE - This temple is marvelous example of the fine art of carving sculptures out of stones that prevailed in ancient India. The river Mangal Ganga is said to originate from one of the tanks located close to the temple.
- KONKAN KADA - A huge cliff at Harishchandragad which offers spectacular view of Konkan and also the sunset.
- OTHER CAVES - There are many caves on this fort.
- KEDARESHWAR CAVE: In this cave there is a Shivlinga which is surrounded by ice cold water. During rainy season this cave is not accessible as there's lot of water in the surrounding area.
- TARAMATI PEAK: Also known as Taramanchi. This is the topmost point on the fort. It is the 2nd highest peak in Maharashtra. Leopards are seen in the forests beyond this peak. From here we can have a glimpse of the whole range of Naneghat and the forts near Murbad.
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