Thursday, August 27, 2015

Lohgarh Fort - My first trek in Western Ghats

Summary :
Level         : Easy
Distances  :  Pune ->Malavali (55km) Or Lonavala -> Malavali (10 km)
                     Malavali -> Lohgarh Fort (5 km)
Durations :  Ascent - 2.5~3 hrs depending on photo-stops
                    At the top - 1-2 hrs
                    Descent - 1.5 hrs
Best Season : Monsoon (June - September)
Essential checklist : Water (2L per head), snacks, Raincoat, Good Trekking shoes, small backpack.

Vinchu Kanta view
Lohagad/Lohgarh/Lohgad simply translates to Iron Fort. It indeed is a majestic place. 

Rising high above the ground, sitting atop a peak just like its neighbour Visapur Fort, Lohgarh is a treat to eyes all the way to the top. 
Its history goes long way back but is mainly dominated by the tales of Marathas under Chhatrapati Shivaji.

Either I am lucky that I started trekking from such a beautiful place or this might be common to all the lovely places around here. I do not have any frame of reference.

A magnificent fort on hill top. Add to it the Monsoon season with light drizzle to heavy downpour, painting the surrounding canvas in that chlorophyllic green color which is just what our city-tired eyes need. 

Visapur Fort Hill
Combined with the bunch of friends from college or company or just your family, you will have a trip which will surely motivate you to keep returning back into nature's lap.
With this thought, me and my four college friends, now living in different cities, started on this trek. 

Scenic road to Fort

Fort Darwaza
We started early in the morning from Pune via Mumbai-Pune Expressway. It is the best and most convenient way, if you can arrange a vehicle. 

Else there are hourly local trains from Pune to Malavali Station which prove to be quite easy on the pocket too. 

Malavali(starting point) is roughly 55 km from Pune.

From Malavali station, Bhaja village is about 2 km from where people usually start trekking. A slight diversion will take you to the ancient Bhaja caves which we bypassed for this time.  We left the car at the village and started on our happy feet. 

Although strong cars and bikes can go all the way to the foot of the fort, it is recommended to be avoided as besides being an injustice to a beautiful trek road, it can be dangerous on the steep slopes especially in rainy season. 

Accompanied by the early morning light drizzle and chit-chatter friends, we covered the 3 km road. On the way, many local vendors sell quick snacks like boiled eggs, roasted corn, cucumber and fruits. Do purchase to keep up your strength and their livelihood.

Between Visapur and Lohgarh Forts
Then we reached the point where the Visapur fort and Lohagarh fort are standing face to face, divided by a small stretch of road. Visapur trek is little hard and timetaking so we did not attempt it. 
After some more walking we reached the Lohgarh village shortly from where the stone steps to the fort start. 

Lohgarh village

Broken steps in Fort
The initial steps are in good shape but as we proceeded through the Fort gates, the steps become broken and slippery on the sides. 

In rainy season, it is suggested that you keep raincoats and backpacks instead of umbrellas and sling bags. This keeps your hands free to balance in case you slip. 

The four massive doors of fort are well maintained. The whole wet-moss-covered steps and walls gave a nice antique look to the fort and reminded of a song from the movie 'Bombay'. 
Team at the Top :)
The ascent  offers several views of the large Pawna lake on one side and Visapur fort on the other. We took roughly 40 minutes including photo-breaks to reach the top.
Pawna lake view
The view from the top was breathtaking. It felt like we were sandwiched between the fort and the thick clouds on top. The view really makes the trek worth it. Instead of randomly clicking pictures in every direction, try sitting down for a while taking in the mesmerizing scenery.

Heavy Clouds over Pavana Lake
There are a lot of points to explore like some bawadis , a dargah and a temple like structure. Some small pools were also there. Although the water did not seem quite clean, there were some crazy boys having fun diving into it.  

Baawadi at hill-top

At hill top
The most famous point is to the west side, VinchuKanta. VinchuKanta is a hill projection resembling a scorpion's sting. 
It is an adventurous but risky descent. We went only half way, as slipping into the valley did not seem such an attraction for us novice trekkers. 

Vinchhu Kanta
One can spend an entire day there just clicking pictures. Although the reckless wind destroyed half of ours. Nonetheless, we came back with dozens of good ones too.  The clouds , showers and mist added an ethereal feeling to the snaps.

Misty View due to rains
My north-indian tastebuds longed for some poori-aloo or besan pakoda now. The garma-garam vada-pavs and Chai from the lone stall at the top made up for that craving.

Tiredness of the trek became evident while descending. Legs felt a little shaky and the slippery steps made it worse. Steadily, we concluded the trek with a lunch at the village and headed back to Pune. 

A perfect short one day trip.

No comments:

Post a Comment

So what do you think of it... :)