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Lohgad Fort

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Lohagad, literally Iron Fort, is situated in Malavali, near Lonavala, on the Mumbai Pune rail line. It is 3,450 feet above sea level. In its glory days, Lohagad was ruled by various dynasties. The last ruler was Chhatrapati Shivaji.

Two of my office colleagues, Nimish and Darshan, accompanied me on my trek to Lohagad, Visapur Fort and Bhaje Caves.

Lohgad Fort
This fort can be visited both by rail and road transport. It takes around 4 hours to reach the fort if you travelling by train from Mumbai. We boarded the Chennai Mail train from Karjat station. As ill luck would have it, it turned out that the train did not halt at Malavali. We had to get down at Lonavala. We were told that the Pandharpur Express would halt at Malavali. We raced to catch this train at Karjat station but missed it by a couple of seconds. We had plenty of time to regret this missed train as we ended up spending 3 hours at Lonavala station.

I began to feel so sleepy that I spent the night on Lonavala station sleeping on one of the benches made for commuters to sit. I have never done this on any of my treks. My colleagues stayed awake all night, guarding our bags.
Lohgad Fort from a distance
We boarded the first local to Pune at around and reached Malavali station in 15 minutes. All that wait for such a short journey! After that we decided to walk to the fort. It took us around 2½ hrs to reach Lohagaon, the base village of the fort. Lohagaon can also be reached by road from Lonavala.

At this hour in the morning, there were no other trekkers in sight, just the 3 of us. The roads were rather muddy. The fog was so thick and dense that we couldn't see even a few metres ahead of us. It was rather risky but we managed to go ahead.

On the way we met a few school children running hastly downhill, hoping that they would not be late for school. We made small talk with the children and they told us that there was no school in Lohagaon and that the nearest school was in Bhaje, a neighbouring village where the Bhaje Caves are located. It was sad that the children had to trek for 2 hours daily to go to school, but the good thing was that the children were going to school in spite of the difficulties.

Foggy way up to the base of Lohgad Fort
It was still foggy when we climbed the steps to the fort. It was beautiful to see the scenic view around as we were climbing up. To reach the top we had to enter through 4 doors called Darwajas in Marathi. Only one of the Darwajas had doors made of wood painted black with iron nails and chains bound on it.

We finally reached the top. The view was amazing. We could see Visapur Fort in the distance, a few hill ranges far away in the village below, the road which takes one to Lonavala station, Pawna Dam and a few lakes in the vicinity.

Stairway to Lohgad Fort
From the top just above the last Darwaja, we could see the path by which we had climbed. Atop the fort we saw a temple, a dargah (prayer house for Muslims), a few water tanks, caves and a burial site for Muslims.

There is an extension to this fort called the Vinchu Kata or Scorpions Tail in English. The name is derived from the shape of the place, which is like the tail of a scorpion. I had been to Lohagad twice before but had never visited Vinchu Kata. This time I had made up my mind that I would visit this place come what may. As the weather was foggy and the ground was wet, we encountered a fair bit of trouble in our attempt to reach Vinchu Kata.

Door (Darwaja) entrance to the Fort
It took us around an hour to reach the top. Thrilled with our achievement and tired with the exertion, we sat there for some time to enjoy the panoramic view and then decided to head down as we had Visapur Fort and Bhaje Caves on our agenda for the day. From here we could see the railway tracks going to Pune and the Mumbai Pune Expressway in the distance.

After viewing the entire fort, we finally decided to head for Lohagaon, where we had our lunch.

View from top
 The locals at Lohagaon have converted their homes into motels which provide both food and shelter to all the people who come to visit the fort. We had the local delicacy, zunka bhakar. Zunka is a gravy dish, green in colour, and bhakar is a roti made of jowar. It was very delicious. We had zunka bhakar and poha along with lime juice for lunch.
Vinchu Kata, extension to Lohgad Fort
Some of the locals advised us on the best way to reach Visapur fort. They told us that it was advisable to take someone from the village with us as we might get lost on the way. As it was already , we decided not to go to Visapur. It would take us at least 7 hours to ascend, view and descend from the fort. Visapur is much bigger than Lohagad fort.

We decided to head back to Bhaje Caves on the way to Malavali station. On the way we sat on the banks of a small stream with our feet in the water. We badly needed this rest and felt most relaxed as we had to head to Bhaje Caves and then home. From Malavali station or Lonavala there are many trains which take us to Mumbai.


Sheldon Quinny said...

These are great getaways , for people who like to hike in the rains or just take a collage hike out...

I use to love these hikes but the max I would go at this age would be to Trimbakeshware and sit in the middle of the lake hehe...

But its cool...Keep Exloring..

PRANNAV 555 said...

good photography!!

Himanshu Nagpal said...

Loved it!

darshan savla said...

Good one...nice photos...Keep Doing it bro...

Anonymous said...

Nice Article. I wished I had joined you for this trek.


Thanks Pranav, Darshan and HImanshu and Sheldon.

You too can join me on my furture treks as I go every weekend :)

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