After finishing the Basgad trek, we were mentally refreshed but the legs had started to show signs of wear and tear. But still we decided to go ahead and complete the Harihar fort trek as we were mesmerized by the pics of the vertical steps.
How to Reach
The base village for Harihar fort trek are
- Nirgunpada/Takeharsh. Nirgunpada is also one of the base village for Basgad fort trek.
- Harshewadi is another base location which is easier route for Harihar trek
Ways to reach Nirgunpada from Kasara station.
- There is no direct transport to Nirgunpada. One can share the jeep to Khodala and change vehicles to Nirgunpada. Takes around 90 minutes if you planning to travel in the morning.
- We had booked our regular taxi from Kasara to Nirgunpada. we booked the jeep with Mr. Prakash – 9823986233
Ways to reach Nirgunpada from Igatpuri
- From Igatpuri board in a bus for Trimbakeshwar and alight at Nirgudpada, the base village of Harihar.
Ways to reach Harshewadi from Igatpuri
One can take the Igatpuri – Trimbakeshwar – Khodala bus and get down at Kasurli. From Kasurli village one has to climb a small hill to reach Harshewadi.
Harshewadi route for the Harihar fort trek is easier as compared to the route from Nirgunpada.
History of the Fort
Harihar, also called Harsh Fort, is 3676 feet above sea-level. It was one of the forts in the possession of the Ahemadnagar Sultans. In 1636 Harihar, Brahmagiri, Tringalvadi and a few other Pune forts were given by the Marathas to the Mughals. Harihar fort was one of the seventeen strong places that were surrendered to the British on the fall of Trimbak in 1818. This was one of the rare forts that was not destroyed by the British because of its beauty.
On the Fort
Things to look out on/from the fort
- The Rock cut entrance stairs
- The main entrance
- The rock cut path from the main entrance to the second door.
- The second door
- The secret door
- Hanuman Mandir & Shivling. The lake near it.
- The 3 rock cut cisterns near Hanuman mandir
- A palace which can accomodate 10-12 people
- 5 rock cut cisterns near the palace.One of them has potable water.
- Another lake at the other end
- View of Basgad fort, Utwad, Fani Hill, Brahma Hill, Kaapdya, Brahmagiri & Bhandardurg fort.
Its a small fort. If you are not acrophobic (fear of heights) then the steep stairs should not be an issue.
The FreeBird Grade for this trek is simple. Just need a good stamina. It takes almost 90 minutes to reach the top from Nirgunpada (even lesser if you start from Harshewadi) & another 50 minutes to explore the top . More time would be required if are photographer. The rock cut stairs are really beautiful !
It was a hot noon and we couldn’t have chosen any more difficult time for the climb. After we completed the Basgad fort trek, we returned to Nirgunpada.
Once we reached Nirgunpada, one of the base for Harihar fort ( other being Harshewadi), we headed towards a near by well to refill out water supplies.
The first glimpse of the rocky Harihar fort
We had one last pit stop in the soothing shadow of a large mango tree (beside a paddy field) to finish all the food. Wonderful sight of Basgad fort from the comforts of the shadow.
We had depleted our food stocks and had to manage in whatever we had. Wish I had carried more food. Wish everyone had carried more food. More water ensured a fuller tummy.
We started off towards the fort through the route besides the lovely paddy cultivations. The fort looked closer than it actually was. It was freakishly hot and sooner it took a toll on one of us.
Swapnil Dhumal decided to go back due to the fatigue, heat and the fact that he had already been to the fort before. We had couple of ORS to boost our energy and morale and started off again.
To add to our misery, we lost the way and went on the route taken by cattle for grazing. The route had higher inclination, more shrubs and no visibility of the way ahead. After 10-15 minutes we met a herdsman who pointed out that we had indeed lost the way. From there onwards as route correction we took route of a dried waterfall. The view of Feni hill, Utwad and Basgad was wonderful from this spot
The waterfall route was steep, but once we were at the top we felt much better.At the top we could easily see where we got diverted from the right path. On seeing a hut on that path meant water. Better yet lemonade. We gulped down atleast two full glasses and rested in the hut feeling blessed.
Back on track the fort seemed to be closing in at a faster rate. Soon enough the first glimpse of the fort became visible. There was a visible glimpse of happiness on our faces. The famed stairs looked upon us with all its might.
Makes one realize that the the skillful and hardworking people who built this centuries back indeed had a spine (and other body parts) of steel.
Helped few people down the stairs and tried to motivate some elderly trekkers to take the steps. But no amount of motivation could coax them to take the stairs against their fear of height ( Acrophobia).
Stairway to heaven
After enjoying the sight of this wonderful stairs, we started the climb. The stairs have a carved in notch which makes for a perfect grip. The stairs are fairly large and in the case when they are not they can easily accommodate a crossed feet. If you are afraid of heights better not look back at this point
It does become a tad difficult to climb with a huge ass backpack and a DSLR recoding the ascent climb in the other hand. Almost reached the main entrance
After the main door you can rest for a while in the cool shadow of the rock . Once pass the main gate the route slithers through the huge rock in a mesmerizing way.
From the main entrance there is almost a tunnel like formation to take you the next level of steps. Also there is a direct drop at the other side facing Brahma hill.
If the main entrance steps were any sign, the route becomes incredibly beautiful walking through the rock cut steps with the lush green valley at the other side. One slip and you are history.
The steps carved beautifully are indeed a pleasure to look upon against the back drop of the valley.
One more piece of stairs and we reach another set of stairs which are equally beautiful & risky.
The stairs seem to reach a dead end, only to lead to a tunnel which leads through to another stairs to the second door of the fort.
Through the tunnel we can see the light at the other side
After a brief adventurous time at the stairs we reach the second door.
Towards the west of this door you can see a Kund.
Moving ahead we see three rock cut cisterns just before the Hanuman temple.
Besides the Hanuman temple is one well structured lake
Towards the right side of this lake is the highest point on the fort.
Going ahead we find few more dried lakes. Even further towards Brahmagiri are five rock cut cisterns which lead to a palace.
From the palace on one side is the highest point on Harihar fort. Towards other side is Brahma hill. And towards the opposite side is Brahmagiri & Bhandardurg.
Once I saw magnificient route leading to Bhandardurg, we turned back in search of the secret door. Finally found this secret door at the edge of the hill just after the second door.
After this we started our descend for the last tryst with the risky stairs.
Enjoying the mesmerising rocky overhang one last time
Finally reached the main gate after exploring the fort for an hour . The view from the main entrance was indeed splendid. Omkar striking a pose
The descend through these stairs gives you an adrenaline pump. None the less ek pic toh banta hai
The view from this point was indeed a one to remember.
Once down the stairs we hurried our way to Nirgunpada. We breezed through the descent in half an hour. Quickly reached the jeep and hurried off to Kasara.
The Upper vaitarna reservoir shimmered in the evening light . A pleasant ending to a beautiful day.
Here are some moments of the trek.
A revitalised soul, a tired body and a mind full of adventure headed back to Mumbai. Till next time.