Rajgad Fort Trek – An exciting one-day trek near Pune/Mumbai (INR 200)

Tents as seen on Rajgad Fort Trek

“All power is within you; you can do anything and everything.” – Swami Vivekananda. I could always sense a boundary around me and I did my best not to step over the line but eventually I did because that’s how much I thrive for adventures. Well, this time my thirst for adventure led me to the Rajgad Fort trek. Abhi, isn’t exploring nature is a kind of glory? Yeah, of course, after all, you always take those mini holidays when you feel restless and come to the lap of mother nature.

Rajgad Fort Trek

Wild Flowers as seen on Rajgad Fort trek

Places, food, adventure and much more, Pune is a treasure trove for all the tourists, and to be the cherry on the cake, it has The King of Forts i.e. the “Rajgad Fort”. Situated around 65 kms from the Pune City, and standing at an elevation of 1400 meter above sea level, Rajgad Fort was the capital of the Maratha Empire for almost three decades.

Rajgad Fort Trek route

Rajgad Fort trek route

Lying at the outskirts of Pune, this place will welcome you with fresh air and greenery.  From the top of Rajgad Fort, one can enjoy the breathtaking views of the Bhatghar Dam along with the Torna and Sinhagad Fort in the vicinity.

Stairs to reach Balekilla top

Bhatghar Dam as seen from Balekilla on Rajgad Fort Trek

With Pune city as my current city of residence, it’s pretty rare to witness stars in the sky. Pollution has taken away this beauty. I was missing the views of the stars which I used to witness while travelling in the Himalayan region. I wanted to experience a sky full of stars and that was the primary reason why I decided on the Rajgad Fort night trek.

Stars as seen on way to Rajgad Fort Trek

Stars as seen en-route to Rajgad fort trek base village

How to reach Rajgad Fort Trek

Rajgad Fort Trek base village (Pali/ Gunjavane) is located around 208 kms from Mumbai and 65 kms from Pune. Mumbai and Pune are well connected to other parts of the country by railways and roadways. From Mumbai, one can catch a train or a bus to Pune. For train bookings visit IRCTC, for bus booking visit MakeMyTrip.

Wild flower as seen on Rajgad Fort Trek

Wildflowers en-route to Rajgad Fort

From Swargate bus stand(Pune), one can catch a state transport bus directly for Gunjavane which is the base village of Rajgad Fort Trek. But the frequency of buses is quite low, so check accordingly. Another option is to take a bus going toward Velhe, get down at Margasani and try to hitchhike till Gunjavane (6.7 kms) or Pali (12.8 kms). Also, from Nasrapur bypass (falls en-route to Rajgad), minivans and jeeps ply to and from Gunjavane village. You can reach Nasrapur by any bus plying towards Satara/Kolhapur/Bangalore.

How to reach Rajgad Fort Trek from Pune

What I will suggest is to hire a bike from Pune (INR 300-400) and explore Rajgad Fort on a road trip as the landscape views from Nasrapur all the way up to Gunjavane/Pali are quite spectacular. For bike rentals, you can compare prices at various bikes rental websites like Royal Brothers, wheelstreet, sabrentkaro, and rentrip.

Splendid view of Balekilla

Balekilla on Rajgad Fort

Various trekking routes for Rajgad Fort Trek and their difficulty level

There are many trekking routes options available to reach the top of Rajgad Fort.

  • The Pali Darwaja route: It is the easiest route amongst all the routes to reach the Fort. The 3-4 kms long trail is known by name “Raajmarg” and connects the Dardige Wadi village to the fort. It generally takes around 2 hours to reach the top from this route. For beginners, I would highly recommend this route. Just type Pali Entrance gate no 2 on Gmaps to reach the exact location. In monsoon, there may be chances that you will only be able to take a bike till Dardige Wadi.

Trek route from base to Pali Darwaja on Rajgad Fort Trek

Pali Darwaja trek Route

  • The Gunjavane route: It is the most popular route among the trekkers. These route passes through Chor Darwaja and further to the Padmavati Maachi and takes around 2-3 hours to reach the same. It is comparatively tougher when compared to the Pali route. There is another route from Gunjavane that enters the Rajgad fort through the Gunjavane Darwaja. Remember, this route is a bit tricky as it involves rock climbing. Just type Gunjavane on Gmaps to reach the base village.

Great architecture as seen on Rajgad Fort Trek

Great architecture at Rajgad Fort

  • Bhutonde village route: It is quite an unpopular route but if you are looking to try something different, you can give it a try. A 3-4 hours’ trek will take you to the Alu Darwaja of the Rajgad Fort. 

Bhatghar lake as seen from Balekilla

Suvela Maachi as seen from Balekilla 

  • Torna Fort to Rajgad Fort: Another interesting route is from Torna Fort to Rajgad fort.

Torna Fort to Rajgad Fort Trek route

Torna Fort to Rajgad fort trek route

Onacheaptrip at Rajgad Fort Trek

Pali Darwaja Rajgad Fort

My journey to Rajgad Fort Trek from Pune

Owing to experience a sky full of stars and the sunrise from Rajgad Fort top, I along with my few friends started from Pune around 3:00 am. With no moon in the sky helped our cause and we could see a drastic increase in the count of stars as we approached Nasrapur. The decrease in pollution and the intensity of the city lights were the prime reason we could experience this beauty.

With friends at Rajgad Fort Trek

With friends at Rajgad Fort

On my previous visit to Rajgad Fort, I did a complete night trek (started from Pune around 9:00 PM) and took the Gunjavane route to reach the top. This time due to some personal reasons, I couldn’t start that early. Anyways, I wanted to experience reaching the fort through the Pali Darwaja route which is the easiest one.

Splendid view of bale

Balekilla as seen from Padmavati Maachi

Water body on Balekilla on Rajgad Fort trek

With beautiful road journey amidst a sky full of stars, we made it to the base village around 5:00 am. Without wasting any time, we started with the trek keeping in view that we wanted to make it to the top before the sunrise. The trail is well marked via this route with just a few difficult patches to climb. A beginner in trekking will be able to make it to the top with just a bit effort.

The Padmavati Maachi on Rajgad Fort Trek

Padmavati Maachi Rajgad Fort

It took us around one and a half around to make it to the top (just 10 minutes before sunrise time). The other best thing that came after stars were the twilight. What to say? I was spellbound by its beauty. It energized me, gave me strength and a message that all the efforts were worth it. And then came the beautiful sunrise!!

Sunrise view from Rajgad Fort Trek

Sunrise as seen on Rajgad Fort Trek

The topmost point of the fort is the Balekilla and the route which leads to it is quite steep. One can take the assistance of the railings to reach the top. If you are fainthearted, I would advise skipping this part of the fort.

P.S. I have seen many old age people doing it so easily!!

Stair route to reach Balekilla on Rajgad Fort trek

Tough route to reach Balekilla top

Compared to the other Forts in Maharashtra, it is one of the rare forts which has quite a few of structures still intact and one can spend 1-2 days to explore the fort to its fullest. The Fort is surrounded on 3 sides by fortified Maachi’s- Sanjivani Maachi, the Padmavati Maachi, and the Suvela Maachi.

Small water body as seen on Rajgad Fort Trek

Sunrise view of Bhatghar lake from the Suvela Maachi is just outstanding. Also don’t forget to take blessings at the Padmavati temple.

Pali Darwaja on Rajgad Fort Trek

Best time to visit Rajgad Fort Trek

The best time to visit the fort totally depends on an individual what exactly he wants to experience. In rainy months of July, August and September, one can experience the foggy conditions and if lucky, the lush green surroundings. But one needs to be extra careful as the trail becomes quite slippery.

Splendid view of Balekilla

October to February will be the perfect time to do the Rajgad fort trek as 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.

Preparing Tea at Rajgad Fort Trek

Stay and food options at Rajgad Fort trek

There is plenty to be explored on the Rajgad fort which cannot be done on a one-day trek, hence staying overnight would be a great option. Padmavati temple at the top can accommodate around 50 persons. There are a few small temples and caves where you can take a shelter. 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).

Padmavati temple on rajgad Fort

Padmavati temple Rajgad Fort

In peak season, one can get local food like Kanda Bhaji, and Pithla – Bhakri at the fort. Also, locals do prepare Poha, Maggi and tea for the morning breakfast. Still, I would recommend you to carry a few eatables along with you. Also, carry enough drinking water with you.

Misal Pav en route to Rajgad fort from Pune

Misal Pav we ate on way back to pune

I am never the same when I see the sunset on the other side of the world. Those wildflowers, that touch of mist on my skin, that ruff bricks of the fort that speaks with pride about the glory of Shivaji Maharaj and moreover the clouds that surrounded fort as if claiming it to be the most pious land where fighters from our Indian history gave their flesh and blood to create a legacy. Everything will remain in my heart. I am taking memories and leaving only footprints.

Sanjivani Maachi as seen from Balekilla on Rajgad Fort

Sanjivani Maachi as seen from Balekilla on Rajgad Fort

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:

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