When monsoons hits Maharashtra the beauty enhances immensely. For people living in Mumbai and Pune it’s the best time to explore the Sahyadris and surrender to nature. For people residing in different states of India or are visiting India, monsoon is probably the best season to explore Maharashtra. Well, not probably I will say it is the best season.
One such place to visit near Mumbai/Pune will be Harishchandragad which was constructed back in 6th Century. Imagine that!
There are several ways/routes to reach . Below are the eight I know, out of which first three are well known and quite popular among trekkers.
- Trek route via Pachnai Village : It’s the easiest trekking route to Harishchandragad
- Trek route via Khireshwar Village : It’s the longest route and takes around 7-8 hours to reach Harishchandragad
- Trek route via Nallichi Vatt : This is the toughest route, and has a steep 80 degree rock climbing. Only recommended for professional trekkers.
- Trek route via Beparda Village
- Trek route via Tolar Khind ( Rajur Village to Kothale )
- Trek route from Belpada village, which passes from Savarne village : The difficulty level is moderate and it’s a lesser known route.
- Trek route from Kotuk to Kothale village
- Trek route from Ratangad : This is a fort to fort route.
Trek route via Pachnai village
I wanted this experience to be a pleasant one, rather than going through exertion and challenging myself ( Probably I will try some other routes next time), so I selected route via Pachnai village.
Distance of Pachnai village from Mumbai and Pune.
- Mumbai to Pachnai : 200 km, 5-6 hours ride/drive.
- Pune to Pachnai : 171 km, 4-5 hours ride/drive.
You can always take help from GOOGLE MAPS to get the directions. If you are wondering how on earth it will take 5 hours to cover 200 km or if you have thoughts like “I can do much better than this”. Well to your disappointment the road after crossing Bhandardhara towards Pachnai village via Rajur is not in good shape, I can still feel that back ache (but it was worth it). So make sure the vehicle you’re using is in good shape.
Entry cost to village Pachnai.
You have to pay Rs.30 per person and Rs.60-100 for your vehicle. The best part is you get parking space and the vehicles are safe and secure at the village.
Rough Itinerary and places to cover.
Honestly you don’t need an itinerary for this place, the trail is well marked and you just need to follow it. There is almost no chance to get lost in mountains (If, you’re wondering) . But this is what I followed.
Trek from Pachnai to Harishchandragdad, and over-night stay at caves
We started around 07:00 AM in the morning from Mumbai and after several halts we reached Pachnai village around 02:00 PM. If you don’t take many breaks, the timing can be reduced and you may reach before 02:00 PM. But I’ll suggest the breaks are worth it.
The view while heading towards Pachnai was something like this. Pretty isn’t it.?
After having our meal at one of the locals house we started to ascend towards the temple and we planned to stay over-night at the caves.
The trail is very well marked and has arrow mark at all the possible turns. You’ll find lot of small vendors selling tea, corn, Maggie, water, etc.
During the ascend you’ll encounter waterfalls and small ponds. The water is of course super clean and the perk of ascending in evening is that the pond and the waterfalls won’t be crowded. Yay! That was the best part for me.
This is how the trail is.
Once you reach at the top, you can shelter yourself at one of the cave and spend the night like a caveman. It’s fun.
TIP : Make sure to reach there before it get’s too dark. It becomes risky to trek in night.
Early morning trek from Harishchandragad to Kokan-Kada
Have break-fast at one of the many local vendors near the caves and temple area. Keep your bags at one of the shop ( Excluding expensive items and money) and start the trek towards Kokankada . It will take around 1 hour to reach there. The trail is very easy.
Do not miss this place, it has one of the most amazing landscapes in the entire region.
The major attraction of Harishchandragad is Kokan Kada . The cliff is not just vertical, it is an overhang, almost like a cobra’s hood. It is beyond description, one should actually see it to experience the nature’s architecture.
Kokan-kada to Taramati aka third highest peak of Maharashtra -1431 m/4695 ft above sea level
The trail to Taramati is little difficult and consist a bit of climbing the rocks and passing through a narrow path between the forest.
The view is magnificent but most of the times it’s covered with clouds. The visibility is very less. But if you wait for sometime the clouds get clear and the view is mesmerizing.
Carry a bottle of water and some dry snacks just in case you feel a drop in energy level. There are no local vendors from Kokan-kada till Taramati and back.
Taramati to Harishchandragad temple and descend back to Pachnai village
While descending back you can take an alternate route and head directly towards the temple area where you kept the bags at. The route is easy to descend but it’s better to have a local guide along.
The chances of getting lost is very slim. So do not worry.
It takes around 1-2 hours to reach Taramati from Kokankada and around 1 hour to descend back to Harishchandragad temple area.
Grab a bite there and indulge in small monsoons delights like roasted or boiled corn, lemon water, tea, coffee etc. Collect your bags and start descending towards village.
Take the same route you took while ascending upwards. Since it gets steep at few areas you may find it bit difficult while descending the mountains as compared to the ascend.
Things to carry for the trek :
- Carry a sleeping bag/sleeping mat if you’re staying overnight at mountain top. You can also take it on rent from local vendors at mountain top. They charge Rs.50 for a sleeping mat.
- Carry a spare bed-sheet or blanket. It gets cold during night.
- Torch. This is essential. Do not rely on mobile torch.
- Power bank. There is no network in the entire area, but since we rely on phone for photographs it’s better to have a battery back-up.
- Water bottle
- Dry Snack
- Trekking stick : It’s always a good idea to get an addtional support while trekking. It helps to balance the body weight.
- Good trekking shoes : The trail gets bit slippery because of water, do not compromise on quality of shoes. It’s important to wear a shoe with good grip.
- Change of clothes and socks.
- Dry towel
- Raincoats, windcheater.
- Polythene to cover the bags, mobiles, power banks, charger, dry clothes etc.
- Carry tooth brush, paper napkins, sun-screen, paper soaps, etc if you’re staying overnight.
Garbage Bag : DO NOT LITTER, be a responsible traveler. Carry a bag, to put all leftovers and garbage in. LEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTS BEHIND.
If you need a local guide and don’t want to go through the hassle of planning everything on your own, contact below person. He is 21 years old and just completed his graduation. He assist people for the trek and manages everything right from stay to food.
He charges Rs.1300 / pp for the trek which includes night stay, snacks, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Rohit : 9923268949
Happy monsoon and have a safe trek!
Comment for more details or if you have any queries. Follow us on Instagram/Facebook to stay connected.