It won’t be wrong if I call Sahyadri’s “my second home “as almost every weekend, I have been hiking somewhere in this mountain range. Though being a huge admirer of Sahyadri’s, somewhere my heart still belonged to The Great Himalayas. But, as soon as I did the Harishchandragad Fort Trek, something changed!! Sahyadris left an indelible mark on my heart at the very first moment my eyes met and feasted on the views from the fort.
Views from Konkankada at Harishchandragad Fort trek
Sitting at Konkankada and looking from the top towards the bottom of the huge rocky mountains made me afraid, I got goosebumps and my heart was beating faster. I was dead scared when I looked down and I was in a river of happiness when I looked up. I was like ‘woo thank God I am here’. Well, Abhi isn’t your splendid therapist “Nature” has ways to leave you speechless? Definitely, it has!!
Sitting at Konkankada on Harishchandragad Fort trek
Of late, I have been doing night treks in the Sahyadris so as to experience a sky full of stars. And believe me, the number of stars that I saw during the Harishchandragad Fort trek, I had never seen on the other night treks in the Sahyadris. Sleeping on the top of a mountain under a sky full of stars was a moment that I would remember for my entire life.
Stars as seen on Harishchandragad Fort trek
How to reach Harishchandragad Fort Trek
Harishchandragad (HCG) Fort is located around 140 kms from both Pune and Mumbai. Both these metro cities are well connected to other parts of the country via railways. You can catch a local bus to reach the Khireshwar Village/ Paachnai village (HCG Fort trek base villages) from these metro cities..
You can catch a Nashik bound bus from Pune and get down at either Narayangaon (75 kms) or Alephata (100 kms). From these towns, you can catch a bus going towards Kalyan and get down at Khubi Phata. You can catch a bus going towards Alephata/Narayangaon from Kalyan in Mumbai and get down at Khubi Phata. From Khubi Phata, Khireshwar is another 5 kms so you may try your luck hitchhiking or walk all the way.
If you want to avoid the hassle of changing public transport, you can drive all the way up to Khireshwar/Paachnai village. Parking facility is available at the base village for a small charge. For renting options from Pune, you can compare prices at various bikes rental websites like Royal Brothers, wheelstreet, sabrentkaro, and rentrip.
Harishchandragad Fort trekking route
Various trekking routes for HCG trek and their difficulty level
There are 3 popular trekking routes options to reach the top of Harishchandragad Fort.
- Khireshwar Village route: This is the most popular and the preferred route to trek the HCG. In terms of difficulty level, I would rate this route somewhere between moderate to difficult level. It takes generally around 3-5 hours to reach the top. The views all along the way make it worth to take this route.
Muddy road to reach Khireshwar Village, the base village of Harishchandragad Fort trek
- Paachnai Village route: This is the easiest route to reach Harishchandragad Fort. I would recommend beginners to take this route. I take around 1-2 hours to reach the fort top from this route depending on an individual’s fitness. The view all along this route are breathtaking.
Dense jungle trail as seen on Harishchandragad Fort trek
- Nalichi Wat route: It is toughest of all the routes and is only recommended for experienced trekkers. Also, one would need assistance of rope to make it to the top of HCG. It takes around 2 hours to make to HCG Fort via this route.
Sunrise hues as seen on Harishchandragad Fort trek
My journey to Harishchandragad Fort from Pune
You need special shoes for hiking and a bit of special soul as well. This time I and my soul decided to do the long-awaited Harishchandragad Fort trek. Located in the Ahmednagar region it is full with spots of attraction and mythical stories. As you’ll reach to the top, you’ll be greeted by diverse flora and fauna, and even though it’s a tough trek, believe me, it’s worth it.
Khireshwar base village Harishchandragad Fort trek
I along with one of my friend started from Pune around 1 PM. From Shivajinagar Bus Depot, we took a bus for Narayangaon (75 kms) and took another bus from Narayangaon going towards Kalyan and got down at Khubi Phata around 6 PM. From there we weren’t lucky enough to get a transport to Khireshwar and we walked the entire 5 kms to reach the Khireshwar village.
Pimpalgaon Joga Dam on route to Harishchandragad Fort
Walking on that road is an experience in itself as one will be walking all along the beautiful Pimpalgaon Joga Dam. At around 7 PM we made it to Khireshwar, the base village of Harishchandragad Fort Trek. It had already gone very dark and there was dead silence in the entire village.
Chai time on Harishchandragad Fort Trek
The initial trek is mostly flat with few steep patches. Look for arrows marked on stones which will guide you to the correct path. One has to walk in dense forest cover which is quite a delightful walk. After around an hour of trekking, we made it to the Tolar Khind. Going further the climb is quite steep and one needs to be very careful.
Arrows marked on stones which guides to correct trail on Harishchandragad Fort Trek
Steep climb after Tolar Khind – poles for assistance
Few railings have been installed to assist in trekking but most of them are in a ruined state. Follow the path of poles installed for these railing and you will make it almost to the top of the mountain. The further trail is pretty flat with few ups and downs. It took us around 4 hours in total to reach Konkankada which is the last point of the Fort.
4 years or so in Pune and why the hell I didn’t come here!! Sitting at Konkankada and glaring at the views of the surrounding regions brought tears of joy in my eyes. The high-speed cold wind was helping to bring in more tears…Ha-Ha!! I was thanking nature for blessing me with such outstanding views. I laid down with my eyes facing a sky full of stars and I was gratified to see such a view.
Night views from Konkankada on Harishchandragad Fort Trek
We decided to set up tents just next to the Konkankada where there were other tents as well. It was very cold and windy night and setting up the tent was getting bit tough but we somehow managed it. Next morning just before sunrise, what I saw, I was left stunned. I never imagined sunrise hues at Sahyadris can be such breathtaking. The Sahyadris range was shining orangish like as they were white Himalayan mountains.
Setting up tent at Konkankada on Harishchandragad Fort Trek
Sunrise hues as seen from Konkankada, Harishchandragad Fort
I wanted to capture all these views in my camera, but the camera wasn’t doing justice to the beauty. I decided not to take many photos, rather meditate in such lovely surroundings. Next, we went hiking to the Taramati Peak which is known as the second highest peak of Maharashtra after Kalsubai Peak.
Meditating at Konkankada Harishchandragad Fort
It takes around half an hour to reach the top of Taramati peak from Harishchandragad Fort. The route passes through dense forest cover and few rocky patches. Views of Konkankada on one side and Pimpalgaon Joga Dam on other side are just amazing from the peak. I would suggest not to miss trekking to Taramati Peak on your trek to HCG Fort.
Standing at Taramati peak on Harishchandragad Fort Trek
Apart from Taramati peak, one can also visit Kedareshwar Caves, Harishchandragad Temple and the various other caves at the Fort. In the night I was under the stars and in the morning I was with golden sun rays. The two giant rocks were my guardian and muse and now I knew for sure my heart belongs here too.
Kedareshwar Cave Harishchandragad Fort
Temple at Harishchandragad Fort
Stay and food options on Harishchandragad Fort trek
There is plenty to be explored on the Harishchandragad Fort trek hence I would recommend staying overnight at the Fort. There are caves at the top which can accommodate quite a good number of trekkers. If you have your own tent, you can pitch it anywhere as safety is not an issue at all (a lot of people stay overnight at the fort on weekends). No tent with you, don’t be disappointed, you can rent one at the fort itself. Charges will be around 300-500 per tent which can accommodate 2-3 people. Contact Hotel Taramati (+919373897256), Hotel Sai Raj(+917507026119) and Hotel green valley(+917507200654) for renting tents.
Camping near Konkankada HCG Fort
There are a lot of Dhaba’s at the Fort where you can get local food like Kanda Bhaji, and Pithla – Bhakri. Also, locals do prepare Poha, Maggi and Tea. Carry enough drinking water with you.
Camping at HCG Fort
Best time to visit Harishchandragad Fort
The best time to visit the fort totally depends on an individual what exactly he wants to experience. In rainy months of July to September, one can experience the foggy conditions. Entire Konkankada is under clouds for most of the time.
From October to February the climate is pleasant and you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the surrounding regions. Remember, still it becomes hot in the afternoon, so try to complete your trek as early as possible. Check for moon status online if you want to experience stars. On a no moon day, the stars are visible to their brightest.
Take a walk in the trees and smell the wild air. Nature’s ability to heal is greater than anyone has ever permitted you to believe. When I look back now, all I feel is a current of zest in my bones. How peaceful I felt meditating there and realizing that it took a less ordinary decision to make all the difference. May your best miles be those covered by foot. Happy Traveling!!
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Are you looking for some essential travel gear? Check out my blog post on What’s in my Backpack.
Looking for more weekend gateway options near Pune and Mumbai? Check out these blog posts:
- A cycle trip to Lavasa city from Pune (INR 100)
- Andharban jungle and Devkund Waterfall Trek – Time to get lost in the dense forest
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- Tikona Fort Trek and Pawna Lake – One day trip near Pune (INR 250)
- A two-day trip to Torna Fort and Madhe Ghat Waterfall(INR 400)
- Matheran – Asia’s only automobile free hill station
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- A road trip to Harihareshwar, Shrivardhan and Diveagar Beach from Pune (INR 1200)
- Kalsubai Peak – Trek to the highest peak of Maharashtra (INR 600)
- Korigad Fort Trek – Exciting one day trek near Pune Mumbai (INR 300)
- Bendewadi, Laalwadi and Jagtap waterfalls – Go get lost in the land of waterfalls!! (INR 300)
- Experience the sunrise from Lohagad Fort near Pune/Mumbai (INR 150)
- Visapur Fort Trek – Thrilling one day trek near Pune Mumbai (INR 200)
- Rajmachi Fort Trek, adventurous one day trip near Mumbai and Pune (INR 350)
- 12-hours monsoon road trip exploring Tamhini Ghat (INR 300)
- An exciting road trip to Purandar Fort from Pune (INR 300)
- Tung Fort Trek – A journey through the clouds (INR 250)
- Nashik City – An exciting two day trip from Pune/Mumbai/Surat (INR 1500)
- Rajgad Fort Trek – An exciting one-day trek near Pune/Mumbai (INR 200)
- Katraj to Sinhagad night trek – An exciting trek near Pune (INR 250)
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