Winter is probably the best season for trekking. There are quite a few options for trekking in winter in the Sahyadris and the Baglan mountain range. We have listed the top forts near Pune which are ideal for trekking in the winter season. Treks are less challenging as the weather is clear and you do not get tired soon as opposed to what would happen in the Summer season.
From camping perspective, there is nothing more awesome than sitting besides a bonfire at night with your trekmates. One word of caution: Ensure that you put out your bonfire. In winters, most of the area is filled with dry grass and you do not want to set the entire area on fire. Carry plenty of bedding and insulating blankets as it gets really cold on a mountain at night.
Few important things
- Always carry tents, not all places have natural shelter
- Carry plenty of insulating material. Blankets, Jackets, Scarves, headcaps, etc
- If you are camping, put out your bonfire before going off to sleep
- Villagers can help you with Firewood and water
- Carry plenty of water, atleast 4-5 litres per person
- While leaving, ensure that you clean your campspot. Leave nothing but your footprints
Harishchandragad - 135 Kms from Pune [Difficult]
This is the number 1 place for trekking in the winter season. The fort is huge and is mostly known for its most scenic point called the Konkan Kada. The view from Konkan Kada is just spectacular and will leave your breathless.
The villagers have setup small restaurants on the top where you can get quick snacks. For overnight treks, they also provide tents on rent.
Rajmachi - 78 Kms from Pune [Easy]
Rajmachi is one of the most beautiful forts in Lonavala. During monsoons, the road that takes to the base village is in a very bad condition and hence winter is the ideal time to visit.
Most of the structures on the fort are still intact. Rajmachi is highly recommended for small groups who want to get away from the monotonus city life. The route that takes you to the base village is also very scenic and gives a forest trail like feeling.
Lohgad - 63 Kms from Pune [Easy]
Lohgad is located near Lonavala and is recommended for one day treks during winter. Most of the walls are still intact and one can get to see the historic architecture here.
Camping is currently banned here as it was causing harm to the forts structure and people did not maintain cleanliness.
Sinhagad - 37 Kms from Pune [Easy]
Sinhagad is an ideal destination for the winter season. This fort is recommended for families and large groups. The locals serve some awesome Maharashtrian dishes like Zhunka Bhakri, Kanda Bhaji [Pakode] and Buttermilk on the fort.
This is an easy level trek as one can take his/her vechile to the top of the fort. The motorable road is also very scenic.
Torna - 90 Kms from Pune [Difficult]
This fort is recommended for experienced trekkers as some parts of the trek are quite difficult. Winter is the best season as the trek gets less challenging and the weather is clear to see the natural beauty surrounding the fort.
We highly recommend Torna for camping as its the highest fort in Pune and offers the best camping experience. You'll definitely have an experience of a lifetime while camping at Torna.
Rajgad - 65 Kms from Pune [Moderate]
Located in the vicinity of Torna, Rajgad is another mighty fort near Pune. The fort offers beautiful scenic views from the top which can be experienced best in the winter season. In the monsoon season, it rains quite heavily and visbility is hampered badly.
Ideal for camping as there are plenty of natural shelters on the fort. Locals help with food and firewood material.
Vasota - 229 Kms from Pune [Moderate]
Although Vasota is a bit far away, it is definitely worth visiting. Its located in the Koyna Wildlife sanctuary and offers spectacular views of the surrounding valley and forest. The sanctuary is home to many wild life animals like wild dogs, sloth bears, hyenas, bisons, leopards, etc.
Winter is the best time to visit as its closed in the monsoon season due to leeches. Camping is not allowed due to presence of wild animals. For people traveling from distant places, there are quite a few hotels at the base village where one can stay for the night.