Travel special: Fort icons of Maharashtra

From the bird-watcher to the serious hiker, Maharashtra is a trekker’s delight when it comes to scaling its forts. As monsoon sets in, we list eight such must-visits to add to your itinerary

Pic courtesy/Aniket Sayam

Gawilgadh: Amravati (not shown on map)
This fort stands in the vicinity of Melghat Tiger Reserve. Close to the forest of Melghat, it’s a great location for
nature lovers. Home to a few stunning ruins, look out for Persian inscriptions at this fort. It’s an easy climb.
Distance: 696 km (approx) from Mumbai

Oriental White-Eye (in picture) can be spotted near Karnala Fort. pic courtesy/asif n khan
Oriental White-Eye (in picture) can be spotted near Karnala Fort. Pic courtesy/Asif N Khan

Karnala Fort: Panvel
The Karnala Fort near Panvel is a birdwatcher’s paradise due to its location in the Karnala Bird sanctuary. The base forest is a great location to spot birds, and interestingly, as you climb higher you can spot many bird species. Sadly, few fort remnants can be found. It’s an easy climb.
Distance: 50 km (approx) from Mumbai

The Scorpion’s Tail section of the Lohagadh fort offers a panoramic view of its surroundings. pic courtesy/GlobalJourneys
The Scorpion’s Tail section of the Lohagadh fort offers a panoramic view of its surroundings. Pic courtesy/GlobalJourneys

Harihar: Nashik
This is a short yet tiring trail. The last 200 feet of the hike is a nerve-racking climb through steep rock-cut stairs inclined at 80 degrees. The adventure doubles up in the monsoon as the stairs become slippery. To add to the excitement, fierce winds blow through the gully, making it difficult to balance on these slippery slopes. The descent is particularly exhilarating as you have to climb down and at one point face a sheer 500 ft drop. The architecture of the stairs is diverse and outstanding; it offers spectacular and occasionally, heady views of the valley below.
Distance: 196 km (approx) from Mumbai

Kalavantin Durg: Panvel
Pic courtesy/globaljourneys

Kalavantin Durg: Panvel
The steep fort summit commands an excellent view of the surroundings, and is an example of the various jewels hidden in India. This trek takes you through the rugged beauty of the Western Ghats. The location is a reminder of the adventurous nature that was integral to the Maratha warriors of yesteryear.
Distance: 50 km (approx) from Mumbai

Pic courtesy/Globaljourneys

Harishchandragadh: Ahmednagar
It is one of the most sought-after forts among trekkers due to its challenging routes and mostly for the mighty Konkankada — a massive overhang, almost like a cobra’s hood (in pic). Said to have been built in the 6th century, during the rule of the Kalachuri dynasty, the various constructions on the fort and those existing the surrounding region point to the existence of diverse cultures here. This one is for the experienced trekkers.
Distance: 201 km (approx) from Mumbai

Pic courtesy/globaljourneys

Lohagadh: Near Lonavala
At a height of 3,400 ft (approx), Lohagad is an easy trek closer to the city. The climb to the fort takes you to panoramic vantage points, huge balconies, and doors, which reminds you of how important this place was during the Maratha rule. Surrounded by lakes on all sides, the view from the fort is breathtaking, especially from Scorpion’s Tail (locally known as Vinchu Kata).
Distance: 95 km (approx) from Mumbai

Pic Courtesy/Dhananjay Kulkarni

Tikona: Pawana
This hill fort stands out amongst its surroundings in the Maval region of Maharashtra. As the name suggests, it has a triangular appearance. It is an easy-to-do trek, and is close to Lohagadh and Tunga fort. One can spot several waterfalls too.
Distance: 121 km (approx) from Mumbai

Purandar: Pune
This trek poses a medium difficulty level. It was an important fort in Maratha warrior king, Chhatrapati Shivaji’s fight against the Bijapuri Sultanate. It stands at approximately 4,472 ft high. Fort Vajragad is its smaller, twin fort.
Distance: 200 km (approx) from Mumbai

Information courtesy Husain Tinwala (Global Journeys), Jayesh Paranjape (Western Routes) and Asif N Khan (BNHS)

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