Thursday, October 24, 2013

Lohagad Fort -- A Hike amidst dazzling wild flowers

It was almost the mid of October and three weeks had quietly passed after my trek to Korigad. Hiking in sweltering heat of October is quite exhausting and challenging. Humidity along with heat dehydrates you instantly and make the hiking more arduous. So good plan is to hike in the region with less humidity and start your hike early in the morning before heat takes a toll on your body. This was one of the reasons of selecting Lohagad. Besides, Lohagad is so crowded with the undisciplined tourists in the rainy season that I somehow shudder to visit it in rains to witness the filth, the litter, the noise that these unruly tourists make on this beautiful fort. So all in all, hiking on Lohagad in October made a lot of sense to me and I zeroed on it.

Next part was to invite friends who are most likely to join.

"Sandeepak Phadke" whom I met on a trek to Visapur just two months back, shares the same passion of hiking , never asks too many questions regarding place to hike, mode of transportation and meeting place. We already have done treks to Visapur, Sudhagad, Sankshi, Korigad together within such a small span of time. Really a great trek-mate to have!

I contacted him on whatsapp:
Me: “Hey Saneedpak, Its been a while since we last trekked (we had trekked together 3 weeks back to Korigad). Let us visit Lohagad this Saturday. You have to say ‘yes’, there is no other option.” :D
Sandeepak: “Jau re" (we will go)
Me: “Currently, we are only two. If possible, invite your friends and I will also invite mine”
Sandeepak: “Ok”

See, no questions; only positive responses. 

Another friend, "Roshan Dusane" who was my classmate and roommate during my engineering days was my dear friend at one point. Though we have remained friends in the theoretical sense, we hardly met during the last few years as our paths diverged wildly. Recently, he got inspired by reading my blogs and decided to join me for the trek to Rajmachi from Kondivade route, a steep hike. As he had put on a lot of weight on the wrong parts of his body, I had advised him not to do his first trek to Rajmachi. But he was adamant and by his sheer will power, he successfully completed the trek. As a result, he was at home for three days with sore legs. Anyways, I have taken a pledge to bring back my friend to the best of fitness and despite having his worst experience on his first trek, I made another attempt to persuade him for another trek.

Me: “Hi Roshan, planned a trek to Lohagad; interested?”
No reply.
Next, day:
Me:” Hi”
No reply till afternoon.

Suddenly, during afternoon Roshan’s message pops up.
“Sorry, I just noticed your message. I am interested and will bring along my friend as well”.

I called him up and after finding out that he had to be back by 4 PM, I decided to cancel the initial plan of traveling by local train and asked Roshan to bring his car to save the time. So all was set and I informed Sandeepak about change in the original plan.

All the trek-mates gathered outside my society around 6 AM. Roshan brought along his friend "Pankaj Jambhale" who was going to hike for the first time. Pankaj drove his brand new Verna car and we took the old highway and soon reached to Bhaje village and parked the car in the parking space specifically reserved for tourists.

We breakfasted at a small food joint named “Panchaganga” and started our walk towards Lohagad around 8 AM. It was a lovely morning and villagers were just starting their daily routine; a farmer was feeding his cows; women were washing the clothes in the water coming down from the waterfall. Though it was almost mid of October, it seemed to have rained the previous night and the path was muddy with puddles of water on the dirt road.

Lohagad base is around 5 Kms from Bhaje village and you need to walk on a gradual ascent. This is one of the most pleasurable walks you will ever have with lush green surroundings.

Small hut along the way with part of Lohagad (Vinchu-Kata machi) seen in the remote background:


We stopped at a small hut to have lemon water and proceeded further. Soon we reached to Gaimukh Khind. From here, you need to take right to go to Lohagad and left to go to Visapur.

Gaimukh Khind with Lohagad on right and Visapur on left

Entire Lohagad as seen before reaching to Gaikmukh Khind



We took the right turn from Gaimukh Khind and proceeded towards Lohagadvadi. Looking back, Visapur was looking splendid. I had visited Visapur recently and was completely awed by the beauty of it.



Soon, we reached to Lohagadwadi, the base village of Lohagad. After bowing our heads in front of statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the village, we started ascending Lohagad.



Lohagad, at an height of 1052 m, divides the basins of Indrayani and Pavna and is situated on a side ranges of Sahydari. This fort is said to be more than 2000 years old. It was ruled by many dynasties right from Satavahans, Chalukyas, Nizamshahi, Mughals to the Great Maratha King Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. More on the history can be found out here.


Map of Lohagad (Courtesy: Trekshitiz)




The fort has 5 successive entrances or Darwajas, Ganesh Darwaja, Maha Darwaja,Nana Darvaja, Trimbakeshwar Darvaja and Hanuman Darwaja. All the doors are still quite strong and are located on the serpentine ascent of the fort. The hanuman darwaja is the oldest of the quartet. The remaining three doors were built by Nana Phadnavis, the erstwhile chief minister of the Peshwas (Sawai Madhavrao).

Ganesh Darvaja with carvings of Lord Ganesha on both the sides:


Shilalekh (inscription) on one of the stones after entering Ganesh Darwaja:




Cannons after entering Ganesh Darvaja

Photo Courtesy: Sandeepak Phadke

Maha Darvaja


The space between the second and the third door contains some cellars used as granaries


Nana Darvaja


Trimbakeshwar Darvaja


Hanuman Darvaja


Serpentine ascent looks awesome from the top.


Soon after entering Hanuman Darvaja, you enter the fort and come across a mosque like structure on the fort containing the tomb. 


After reaching on top of the fort, we met a guy named "Ajit Dixit" who had come alone from Mumbai to hike on Lohagad. I asked him to join us for further exploration and he instantly agreed.

Going further from the mosque, there is a Mahadev Temple.


Trimbak Talav next to the above temple


 Further along the fortification is a spacious rock cut cave named "Lakshmi Kothi". Nana Phadanvis  made use of this kothi to store treasure looted from Surat.


This is an ideal place for staying on the fort and can easily accommodate more than 50 people.


Water tank near the cave:



Polygonal lake with 16 sides built by Nana Phadanvis:



On the west side, there is a long and narrow wall-like fortified spur called Vinchukata (Scorpion’s tail) because of its shape. (Dimensions: 1500m long & 30m wide)



We couldn't resist clicking our pictures in front of this marvelous structure.

My photo clicked by Sandeepak Phadke

You need to negotiate a rock patch to go down to this part of the fort. If you are not comfortable with coming down from the rock patch, there is an alternate and simple route available which starts few meters before the rock patch.

Out of 5, only two of us (me and Sandeepak) negotiated this rock patch. Rest were not confident and we did not force them. They agreed to wait till we explore the area on Vinchu-Kata.

Rock Patch to descend on Vinchu-Kata

Water cistern on Vinchu-Kata


Tip of the Vinchu-Kata


View from tip of Vinchu-Kata


To ascend to the main part of the fort from Vinchu-Kata, we were thinking to climb the rock patch. But we spotted a simple route just beside the rock patch. To complete the exploration, we followed this route which joined just few meters away from the rock patch from where we had descended.



Plateau and small hills on Visapur top are clearly seen from the top of Lohagad. Also, on the right side of Visapur, you can clearly see the peak named "Bhatrashi". This is the beholding sight to watch particularly if you have wild flowers in the foreground.
In 1818, making use of its higher elevation and proximity to Lohagad,, the British troops set up their cannons on Visapur and bombarded Lohagad, forcing the Marathas to flee.


Highest point of Lohagad where there is a tomb like structure.



Expanse as seen from this highest point:




After exploring all the fort, we had a packed lunch lovingly prepared by our respective wives and descended back to the village. From here, we again had to walk back to the Bhaje village in the scorching heat.



We took few small breaks in the shadow to get some respite from the heat.

While returning back, we had an amazing view of Bhaje Caves from the distance. As we wanted to return back before 4PM, we did not visit it.



Some macro photography along the way:




Soon, we reached to Bhaje village and spotted few enthusiastic tourists who were trying to get drenched themselves under almost non-existent waterfall.



We dropped our new friend Ajit to Malavali railway station and headed towards Pune. We reached back to Pune before 4PM giving us the opportunity to spend a quiet evening with the family.

In hindsight, it was the best season to visit Lohagad with hardly any crowd. Sights of flowers in dazzling profusion carpeting the entire fort would linger in my mind for a long, long time. Wonderful architecture of the fort, stunning sights of Tung, Tikona and Visapur fort made this hike really memorable.


Tips for the hikers:
  • This is a simple hike. If you walk from Malavali, it is a very scenic and pleasurable walk of around 6-7 Kms one way. 
  • If you have time, you can also visit Bhaje Caves along the way or the nearby Karla caves.
  • Visiting Visapur on the same day is possible but it would be hectic and has to be done in a lot of haste.
  • You can get lunch at the base village, Lohagadvadi.
  • Don’t miss visiting Vinchu-Kata machi. You can take a simple route if you don’t want to negotiate the rock patch.
  • Don’t miss the stunning views of Visapur, Bhatrashi Peak on the east side and Tung, Tikona forts and Pavna dam on the South side.
  • Beware of the monkeys on the fort. Don’t carry the plastic bags in your hands to avoid monkeys attacking you. 

Thank you for reading the blog!

Do visit my home page to easily navigate to my other blogs.

Happy trekking!

Appeal: No litter; no plastic; no wrappers; keep the mother nature clean!

9 comments:

  1. Wow/...Excellent Blog as well and cool snaps..but road till Lohgad base from Bhaje is a huge disappointment..it has ended the real essence of Lohgad trek !!

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    1. True Onkar! I absolutely agree.It is painful to see people visiting Lohagad base on road but at least hikers like us still can visit it by foot in the off season.

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  2. Hey Prashant, great blog. The fort looks beautiful. It’s amazing how a common passion can connect people. It’s always fun doing what you love. You have explained the whole trekking experience very well. Loved read it and now i want to go for trekking.

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    1. Thanks Adway for your nice comments! It is great that my blog made you think about trekking! Go ahead and start it! I would love to help you in case you need any guidance..All the best!

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  3. Awesome Blog Prashant........
    Provided useful info on a project....

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    1. Wonderful photos! They are really going to help me for our 10th std projects

      And i didnt expect you here --------- Nirav Maru!

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  4. Mr. Prashant... You are not only a good trekker but also a good photographer!

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  5. Yesterday had my field trip to lohagad n bhaja caves n enjoyed the short cuts much. it was a lovely adventure. We had Mr sachin joshi.

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  6. Nice blog. I'm now planning to visit this on 31st December with my son, wife and mother. If it is easy trek, my mother can very well complete it :-)

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