Top 5 Trekking locations in Maharashtra
The third most populous state of Maharashtra with more than a hundred million inhabitants, Maharashtra is the historically rich state alive with vibrant cultures, ancient monuments, all resting the plains and plateaus along the coastline of Maharashtra.
We list 5 places in Maharashtra which offer the best trekking experience:
1. Lohagad Fort: (Near Lonavala)
At a distance of 11 km from Lonavala, 66 km from Pune & 114 km from Mumbai, the Lohagad Fort (Iron Fort) is a historical fort situated along the Sahyadri hills in the Lonavala region of Maharashtra. It is one of the best tourist places to visit in Lonavala and also one of the popular heritage in Maharashtra.
Perched atop a hillock at an altitude of 1050 m, the Lohagad Fort separates the Indrayani basin from the Pawna basin. It is also among the popular trekking places to visit near Pune & Mumbai. The fort was built by Guru Govind Singh in 1564 CE to serve as a prison. Shivaji Maharaj captured it in 1648 CE, but he was forced to surrender it to the Mughals in 1665 CE by the Treaty of Purandar. Shivaji Maharaj recaptured the fort in 1670 CE and used it for keeping his treasury. Later in Peshwa's time, Nana Phadnavis used this fort for living and built several structures in the fort such as a big tank and a step-well. Recently the fort has been declared as a protected monument by the government.
The hillfort is designed in the shape of the tail of a scorpion. The fort can be reached from any of its four entrances, namely Maha Darwaja, Ganesh Darwaja, Hanuman Darwaja and Narayan Darwaja.
2. Kalsubai Peak: (Near Bhandardara)
At a distance of 12 km from Bhandardara, 165 km from Mumbai & 174 km from Pune, Kalsubai Peak is a mountain peak in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. This is one of the popular places of trekking in Maharashtra, and among the must include places in Bhandardara tour packages.
The peak of Kalsubai perched at an altitude of 5400 feet (1646 m) and it is the highest peak in Maharashtra. The peak lies within the Kalsubai Harishchandragad Wildlife Sanctuary. It is one of the best places to visit in Bhandardara for adventure enthusiasts. The peak is a small plateau and offers a commanding view of nearby forts and Bhandardara Dam. It was used for keeping watch on their enemies during the Maratha rule in the region. Kalsubai Temple is Located at the topmost peak of the Sahyadri mountain range of Maharashtra.
To reach the summit there are various trekking routes. The most popular route starts from the village of Baari which is about 10 km from Bhandardara. To reach the base village of Baari, one has to travel to Igatpuri on the Mumbai Nashik route. Authorities have built three iron ladders along the vertical hill slopes to make the trekking route convenient and safe. It takes 3 hours to reach the Kalsubai summit from Baari village.
3. Sinhagad Fort: (Near Pune)
At a distance of 32 km from Pune Junction, Sinhagad or Sinhagarh means the Lion Fort, is a fortress located southwest of Pune City. Sinhagad Fort is one of the popular places of trekking in Maharashtra.
Previously called Kondana, the fort has been the site of many important battles, most notably the Battle of Sinhagad in 1671 CE. It is one of the top places to visit near Pune City. According to history, the fort was built 2,000 years ago and it is said that the name Kondana was derived from sage Kaundinya. Mohammed bin Tughalak captured the fort from the Koli tribal chieftain, Nag Naik in 1340 CE. And in 1496 CE, Malik Ahmad, the founder of the Nizam Shahi dynasty took control of the fort. Nearly 200 years later, the Maratha leader Shahaji Bhonsale captured the fort. In 1647 CE, Shivaji held the stronghold and renamed it Sinhagad. In 1665 CE, as per the Treaty of Purandar, Shivaji handed over Sinhagad to the Mughals and again captured it in 1670 CE, under the direction of Tanaji who was Shivaji's favorite general. Aurangzeb laid siege to Sinhagad in 1701- 03 CE, but could not hold it for long. Finally the British seized the fort from the Marathas in 1818 AD. The fort was later used as a retreat for many European residents of Pune.
One can reach Sinhagad fort either by trekking or drive all the way up to the fort parking area. The 3 km trek starts from Sinhagarh village is medium and it takes 1 hour to reach the fort. From the top of the fort, one can enjoy the majestic view of the mountain valley.
4. Ratangadh Fort: (Near Bhandardara)
At a distance of 6 km from Ratanwadi, 23 km from Bhandardara, 183 km from Pune & 197 km from Mumbai, Ratangad is an ancient hill fort situated at Ratanwadi village in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. It is one of the best forts in Maharashtra and an ideal place for trekking around Mumbai & Pune.
The Ratangad Fort is one of the most popular places to visit in Bhandardara and the place leaves visitors spellbound with its rich heritage. The fort is located at a height of 4250 feet. Ratangad Fort is 400 year old fort, which was used by Maratha warrior Shivaji. The fort was initially ruled by the Mughals and it was conquered by Shivaji Maharaj.
There are numerous trekking trails near this fort, from where tourists get beautiful view of the valley in the Sahyadri mountain range. The trek to Ratangad from Ratanwadi, base village of Ratangad trek, would take about 3 to 4 hours one way. It is a simple trek and the undulating trail will take visitors through small fields and thick forests. One has to cross Pravara River on the trail. Towards the end of the trek there are two ladders. The base village Ratanwadi can be reached by road or boat from Bhandardara. By boat, it is a 6 km journey and further it is a 4 km walk till Ratanwadi.
5. Pratapgad Fort: (Near Mahabaleshwar)
At a distance of 20 km from Mahabaleshwar, 140 km from Pune & 221 km from Mumbai, Pratapgad, also known as Pratapgarh, is a large hill fort located in the Satara district of Maharashtra. It is one of the best heritage places to visit near Mumbai, and among the popular attractions not to miss as part of Mahabaleshwar packages.
The fort lies at an altitude of 1080 m and is built on a spur that overlooks the road between the villages of Par and Kinesvar. Maratha king Shivaji Maharaj had commissioned Moropant Pingle, his prime minister, to commence the construction of this fort to defend Nira and the Koyna River banks, and also to guard the Par pass. It is one of the most scenic places to visit in Mahabaleshwar. The construction of the fortress was completed in the year 1656. The fort stands as the witness of the historic Battle of Pratapgarh between Shivaji and Afzal Khan, the commander of the Bijapur Sultanate, on 10th November 1659. In 1818, the Maratha forces had to surrender the Pratapgad Fort after losing the third Anglo-Maratha War.
Today this fort has become a famous tourist spot near Mahabaleshwar as it is still in fairly good condition. There is a motorable road up to the entrance of the fort. Visitors have to explore the fort by walk/trek (around 1 km ). Inside the fort, there are small eateries for food and a rest house available for tourists.