Forts Around Mumbai: Become a Maratha Warrior this Weekend!

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Inside Sagargad
Waterfall Enroute Sagargad
Waterfall Enroute Sagargad

The Sahyadris hold a special place in the hearts of people of Maharashtra. The Maratha rulers turned the peaks of various hills in this region into their bastions of power. They built forts high above the ground, a feat in itself, for then the convenience of technology was not available to them. Indigenous techniques were employed and strong forts were created using locally available variety of stones. The rulers used these forts as vantage points to keep an eye on enemy movement and safeguard themselves from potential attacks on their territories. Over a period of time, more than 300 forts were built to facilitate administration and security. Some were impregnable and were never conquered by invaders. The strength of the Marathas lied in their forts, their precarious locations being a natural disadvantage to the enemy.

Waterfalls Enroute Kothligad
Waterfalls Enroute Kothligad

However, as time passed and foreign invaders attacked India. Initially, they were met with stiff resistance from the local kings. The invaders, however, were cunning and realised that the strength of the locals lied in their forts. So the British, especially used detonators and blew up the walls of the forts during every siege. This lead to weakening of the empire and as a result these forts now lie in ruins atop various peaks. Some of them have been restored but the past glory has been lost forever. This week, I suggest five hill forts that you should trek upto during this season and experience what it must have been to be a Maratha Warrior!

Lohagad Fort - Top View
Lohagad Fort – Top View

Lohagad

Loosely translated the name means the Iron Fort. Quite true to its name, this fort has been impregnable. It has withstood various attacks and hence most of the structure today is in good condition. It’s strategically located doors provide 3 levels of security and protection against possible invasions. Located only a few kilometers from Lonavala, this is ideal for amateur trekkers. It is a treat to your senses in the monsoons as clouds descend upon the peak and waterfalls dot the entire route.
Base Village: Bhaje
Nearest Railway Station: Malawli Station on the Lonavala-Pune local line.
Food:Food is available at Lohagadwadi, a small hamlet that lies at the base of the fort, 2 hours from Bhaje.

Sagargad
Sagargad

Sagargad 

The name might mislead you. It’s located close to the coast but is nowhere close to a sea fort. Standing a good 470 meters in height, there’s hardly any fortification left. But it is seeped in history and famous for the Maratha Admiral – Kanhoji Angre who put up a brave fight against the foreign invaders and kept the coast free. Lying a few kilometers before Alibaug, the route also boasts of a waterfall on the way.
The trek is easy but long, be prepared to walk long distances but the views from the top make the walk worthwhile! If one is lucky, you can witness a reverse waterfall. Winds blowing at high speed reverse the flow of falling water and create an amazing spectacle! Hiring a guide is preferable as the route is a little tough to figure out at some places.
Base Village: Khandale, Alibaug
Closest Railway station: Panvel
Food: With prior intimation, food can be organised at Sagargad Maachi, a hamlet you encounter midway. 3 hours one way.
View From Rajmachi
View From Rajmachi


Rajmachi (Shrivardhan and Manaranjan Forts)
Rajmachi (Udhewadi) was used to monitor the Bor Ghat, an erstwhile important trade route between Mumbai and Pune. Fortifications, caves, water tanks and even secret gateways make these two forts an explorers delight! A small lake, located close by is ideal for taking a dip. One can even visit Kondane caves, a series of Buddhist caves while descending. Trekking to these forts is suitable for both the amateur and the expert as there are two routes to get here.
1. Via Lonavala, a flat 15 km walk
2. Via Karjat( Kondivade), a challenging 4-5 km climb. Route is well marked.
One could ascend via Lonavala and then descend towards Karjat, visiting Kondane caves on the way. An overnight halt at Udhewadi is recommended.

Base Village: Kondivade (Karjat side)
Closest Railway Station: Karjat / Lonavala
Food and Accommodation: Food and accommodation facilities are available here.
View From Rajmachi
View From Rajmachi

Mahuli Fort
Mahuli fort not only is famous for its historic capture but also because it is the highest point of our neighbouring Thane district. This fort was lost to the Mughals in the treaty of Purandhar but was gained back after an initial failed attempt that left over 1000 soldiers of Shivaji dead. The route to the top is beautiful but quite long and one must be equipped with food and water.
Base Village: Asangaon
Closest Railway Station: Asangaon on the central line.
Food: With prior intimation food can be organised at the village.

Kothligad
Kothligad

Peth – Kothilgad
Located in the Karjat region, the trek to this fort is simple and dotted with green valleys and waterfalls. It’s also a symbol of perseverance. The fort was captured by the Mughals from Sambhaji and despite varied attacks, the Marathas failed to regain control over this fort. Eventually the British took it over. However, the Peshwas, fought off the British and regained control of this thumb shaped fort ending a long struggle. The victory was short lived as the British waged a battle the very next month and regained control. This fort was primarily used as a watch tower to monitor the Mawal area.
Base Village: Ambivali
Closest Railway Station: Karjat. Regular tum-tums ply to the base village of Ambivali.
Food: Food can be organised at Peth, which lies half an hour away from the peak.

Although the forts now lie in ruins, Mother Nature has taken over and they are home to many life forms. Today, these structures don’t face any threat from foreign invasions but from their own people. Us, tourists and trekkers. Irresponsible practices such as littering the place, defacing the walls have lead to their further deterioration. If you plan to visit any of these places, make a conscious effort to preserve the ecology and the heritage value of these structures. Keep your plastic usage to a minimum, don’t offend the locals by way of your dressing or actions. Be safe.

If you have taken any of these treks, share your stories with us below!
Next Week: Offbeat trails to explore in the Sahyadris

Post By Rushikesh Kulkarni (22 Posts)

Runs Breakfree Journeys, a cult tourism outfit interested in outdoor travel and backpacking. On days that he is not wandering around the Western Ghats, he is spotted roaming in the bylanes of Bombay scouting for heritage history and good food.

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Rushikesh Kulkarni

Rushikesh Kulkarni
Runs Breakfree Journeys, a cult tourism outfit interested in outdoor travel and backpacking. On days that he is not wandering around the Western Ghats, he is spotted roaming in the bylanes of Bombay scouting for heritage history and good food.
  • Great list and blog , thank you for sharing the amazing and informative blog, well done.