ONE DAY TREK TO HARIHAR FORT-NASHIK, MAHARASHTRA
by :sambhaji patil
ABOUT HARIHAR FORT
Harihar fort is also known as Harshagad fort. It is located in the Nashik district of Maharashtra state. Maharashtra has ample amount of beauty that lies among the Western Ghat, this beauty is also termed as Sahyadri mountain, and Harihar fort is one of those place. It is said that, this fort was one of the most important watch tower to look on trade route. It is ideal gateway for wild adventurer, enthusiast travelers, and one who wants to witness the beauty of greenery. The main attraction here is the top pinnacle, 80 degree incline at final summit make this trek more challenging and tough. The fort is situated on the height of 3600 feet above sea level.
WHAT ARE THE OPTION TO REACH HERE?
Nearest airport to reach here is Mumbai International airport which is on the distance of 180 km from Harihar fort. Shirdi domestic airport lies on the distance of 90 km from Nashik. One can hire self-drive vehicle up to Harihar fort or can travel to Nashik by bus and then cab up to Harihar fort. The distance between Nashik to Harihar fort is 40 km.
Nashik railway station is the nearest one from Harihar fort. It is one of the most running railway station, as some of the express trains connecting to Nashik through major cities like Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai halts here. Nashik to Harihar fort distance can be easily reached. From station cabs are available to reach the base of Harihar fort. From Nashik railway station one can also travel to Trambak by bus and then another bus to the Nirgudpada which is the base village of the fort. Traveling in bus is one of the cheapest way to reach.
If you are coming from Mumbai then take local train to the Kasara (Kasara local frequency is one in every two hours). From Kasara railway station, reach Igatpuri bus stand which is on the distance of 18 km. There are share cabs available to reach Igatpuri from Kasara railway station (From Kasara to Igatpuri share vehicle frequency is very less). From Igatpuri bus stand catch local bus going towards Trambak road via Nirgudpada (Before leaving from bus, take complete knowledge of last bus for return journey).
As Harihar fort located on the hills, there is no direct road to the hill. One can drive own vehicle up to Nirgudpada base village. From there it is 2 hours trek to Harihar fort.
TREKING ROUTE TO HARIHAR FORT
Coming to my corner of story, one of the most awaited day had arrived, a day to make my most awaiting plan succeed. As decided, I had reserved one of my Sunday for Harihar fort trekking. I normally preferred to travel on my own bike, because traveling on own vehicle is always preferable and time consuming. Mady, my friend who is also madtraveler like me and always ready for any trek. This all started from Mumbai, when we started our journey towards the destination, the road from Mumbai to Nashik was not new for me, as there are few places which I had already explored from Nashik region. Our travel route was Mumbai- Kasara- Ghoti- Vaitarna and final to Harshewadi base village. It was 190 km one way traveling on bike. Driving from Mumbai to Harihar via Kasara, one has to take left next to Ghoti on main highway that goes towards Vaitarna and also one of the shortcut way and time consuming. This is one of those route that offers the beautiful panoramic view of Vaitarna Lake. The road was so nice and very scenic, that made us to take photogenic break to click some views of enticing Vaitarna Lake. View of the Lake was simply breathe taking that offers pleasing panorama view of the surrounding mountains. Traveling ahead of Vaitarna was giving some glimpse of Harihar fort. I was so happy, as I was about to reach my destination. There is enough space available to park vehicle at base village. There are no parking charges. Your vehicle is also safe here.
Trekking to the fort has options of two base village. One is Nirgudpada and another is Harshewadi. Route from Harshewadi is easier as compared to Nirgudpada, so we decided to take easy route. The initial trail is simple but confusing for new comers. One can take help of locals to reach to the starting path of this trek. Afterwards there are arrow mark placed on route towards Harihar fort. After walking for around 20 minutes, trail gradually starts with climbing up that leaves you in the forest. Route is simple but little steep to climb up. Same easy route continuous until you come to the final 20 minutes of the trek. It takes around one and a half hour to reach the scarp of the hill where fort is situated. The real adventure begins here, when you come across the rock cut stairs with the climbing up at 80 degree incline. It is such a narrow step, one person at a time is the thumb rule to ascend. There are two holes made on each side of the stairs that helps visitors to hold the stairs and move upwards. After crossing this stairs, there is first entrance door of the fort that has caves like structure in it. On top there is saffron flag of Swarajya.
Trek doesn’t stop here, after moving further through this caves, rock cut stairs continuous till second entrance gate of the fort. There is small Lake one the top with Lord Hanuman temple. Lake water is not potable, so not to drink it. On route you may come across two shacks selling some snacks and water. You can refill your water bottle from here. In monsoon, some people avoids to get up to summit point due to slippery stairs, but some enjoy like an adventure of life with twist of rain and clouds that makes the day more charminig. The view in the monsoon is enchanting and more photogenic to enthusiastic. Trekking to Harihar fort is the combination with great history, geography, and some adventure in it. From top one can enjoy the mesmerizing view of Vaitarna reservoir, Bramhagiri hill, along with surrounding mountains. This view was helping my body to regain lost energy. For beginners it is easy trek, but one needs to be careful while crossing final patch of the fort. We spend good amount of time on top and gave some rest to the body. After long break of around 2 hours, we started descending down from the stairs. descending from first gate was bit risky, one has to be careful, one mistake and you are down; somehow we managed to descend the stairs. It took almost one and half hour to reach back to base village. It is one of the easy trek for beginners, but try to start the trek early in the morning. Here we finished our trek with cherish memories.
IDEAL TIME TO VISIT HARIHAR FORT
Harihar fort can be accessed throughout the year by trekkers of all over the states. The best time to visit here is, monsoon when climate is pleasant with fogs all around and greeneries. One needs to be careful while trekking in monsoon.
From October to February is favorable to visit here along with night camping. This is one of such place where temperature falls down to 10 degree.
Summer is not advisable as sun heats up the rock and becomes very hectic to climb up.
PLACES TO EXPLORE ON ROUTE TO HARIHAR FORT
Camping at Nirgudpada village– One can enjoy the best of camping at Nirgudpada village.
Trimbakeshwar Shiva temple– It is located on the distance of 8.5 km from Harihar fort. It is ancient Hindu temple and also one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of India.
Vaitarna Lake– It is located on the distance of 6 km from Harihar fort. This Dam built on Vaitarna River and provides the breathe taking view of the majestic Western Ghat.
Anjaneri Fort– It is located on the distance of 11 km from Harihar fort. This place is famous as the birth place of Lord Hanuman.
STAY OPTION ON ROUTE TO HARIHAR FORT
Being a local village there are no hotels or resorts available for stay at base point, but if you are at Nirgudpada village, then one can request locals for home stays and foods to eat.
There is enough space on top of the fort for camping, but only concern is the wind.
Harshewadi village is not developed well for staying purpose, but enough space is available to pitch your own tent at base.
On the distance of 7 km from Harihar fort, there are few hotels available with economic rates.
For food, request locals where you are staying, home-made food in any place of Maharashtra can make your day happy.
You can carry some ready to cook food if going for camping, but only thing you need to carry extra is portable stove.
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
- Carry bag-pack loaded with some energy bar and enough water, sometimes the shacks located on route may remain close.
- Don’t try to take selfie’s while climbing final rock cut stairs due to some risk factors.
- Start your trek early morning.
- Try to avoid visiting here in heavy monsoon due to slippery rock.
- Do not drink on fort and litter the area around the fort.