Arthur Seat to Chandragad trek is one of the finest treks of Sahyadris and is an ecstasy for all the adventure seekers and nature lovers.
The isolated deep Savitri valley on the left side and the shallow green valley on the right side is a fascinating sight. From the Arthur’s seat point one can clearly see the geographical distinction of Kokan and Deccan. From Arthur Seat’s point one can get mesmerizing view of the Mahableshwar Range including Pratapgad, Koleshwar, Raireshwar and Chandragad. InContrast to the Dhawalya Ghat trail, most of the Chandragad trail is barren.
The winding trail with thesteepscreeslopeis a different thrill especially when you have to descend and negotiate exposed patches with 200 – 500 ft drop. Arthur Seat to Chandragad is one of the finest treks of Sahyadris and is an ecstasy for all the adventure seekers and nature lovers.
Authur’s Seat is 4396 ft high. The queen of all points, Arthur’s point got its name after Arthur Mallet as he was the first man to come here and build a house. He sat here and gazed at the Savitri River, where he lost his wife and children in a tragic ferry mishap. The arrangement of rocks on the southern side is compared with the world famous rocks of Grand Canyon, Colorado in the USA.
➤ Short Itinerary
- Arthur Seat to Chandragad is one of the finest treks of Sahyadris and is an ecstasy for all the adventure seekers and nature lovers.
- Dhawalya Ghat or Arthur Seat to Chandragad trail is an adventurous trail in the dense Javli forest less frequented by the trekkers.
- The impenetrable woods combined with the steep and long trail add to the challenge.
➤ Trail Information
History of Mahabaleshwar
The history of Mahabaleshwar dates back to 1215 when it wasvisited byJadav king of Devgiri. He built a small temple and water tank at the source of river Krishna. Around 1350, Brahmin dynasty took over power and gave the area peace and prosperity. In the middle of the 16th century the Maratha family of Chandarao More, became rulers of Javli and Mahabaleshwar, during which period the temple of Old Mahabaleshwar was rebuilt.In the 17th century it was taken over by ChhatrapatiShivajiMaharaj. He overran Javli and Mahabaleshwar and constructed the impregnable fort at Pratapgad in 1656.After him the Peshwas ruled until their downfall in the 19th century. In 1819, the British included the hills in the territory of the Raja of Satara.Col. Lodwick stationed at Satara, in April 1824 with a contingent of soldiers and Indian guides climbed up the mountain face reaching what is now known as the Lodwick Point, thus Mahabaleshwar was “Discovered”. Starting with Sir John Malcolm in 1828, a succession of them from Elphinston, Arthur, Carnac, Frere and many others became regular visitors.
The fort was constructed by Chandrarao More of Javli and it was named after him as ‘Chandragad’. It was taken over by ShivajiMaharaj in the 17th century. The fort was used mainly to keep close watch on the ‘Dhawalya Ghat’ route.7-8 kms from Dhawale village is Umarathwhich is birth place of ShriTanajiMalusare also known as Simha (“lion”), a great worrier in the army of ShivajiMaharaj.
Day 1: Arthur Seat(4396 ft) –Ghumati (3200 ft) – Dhawale Ghat– Dhawale Village (1500 ft), 13 – 15 kms, 6-8 hours
It is going to be a long trek today and hence you need to reach the start point as early as possible. From the Arthur Seat Point you get breath-taking views of Raireshwar & Koleshwar plateau, Mahabaleshwar range and Savitri valley. You can see glimpse of Chandragad which is your destination for the next day. You can also see the plateau where you have ‘BAHIRICHI GHUMATI’ which is the major milestone on the Arthurs seat-Chandragad route.Descend to Dhawalya Ghat starts from the right hand side of Arthur Seat Point Window.
The start is a slippery through the scree slope also there is a small rock patch right at the start of the trail. You need to be very careful as it is slightly difficult and exposed and can be slippery post monsoons. It takes around 25 – 30 minutes to negotiate the patch and get down for a group of 5-6 experienced trekkers. After negotiating the patch proceed down on the trail that goes down the ridge. Initial 20– 30 minutes of descend involves trekking down steep slope after which the trail is gentle ridge walk. Continue traversing the ridge keeping the valley towards your left till the end.Around 30 – 40 minutes into the hike the trail traverses through thickets followed by dry grass in summer. Post monsoon the grass is thick and green and there are chances of missing the way as there is no trail and one has to have thorough knowledge of the trail to find the route. You will see the trail gradually climbs up for a few minutes and then descends down the hump towards the right.
You will see the trail gradually descends through the woods with small boulders on the way. After a few minutes you will reach an open space that has a small water tank in the left and Bhairichi Ghumati in the right.This is the only spot en-route where you get the potable water so fill in your water bottles also you can have lunch here. It takes around 2 hours to reach Bhairichi Ghumati from Arthur Seat point.
Proceed towards the left from Ghumati to descend Dhawalya ghat. You will see the route coming from Arthur seat in your left. Turn right and you will see the trail gradually descends into the valley. You will see a huge mountain range that connects to ridge coming from Chandragad. Proceed ahead keeping the huge mountain towards your left. Continue traversing the valley for around 30 – 45 minutes till you see a trail going down the valley. You will see the trail now passes through thickets. Continue on the trail till you notice a steep descent through the face of the mountain that you just traversed. Proceed ahead on the trail that descends into the valley. You will see the trail passes through dense woods.
The trail alternates between dried streams and huge boulders in between. As you move down you will see the woods grow denser and denser. Continue on the trail for 30 – 45 minutes till you see the trail passes through small boulders. Another 20 – 30 minutes and you will see the trail passes parallel to a dried stream. There are pockets in the stream that contain potable water even till January – February. Proceed ahead on the trail for another 30 – 45 minutes till you see the trail becomes gradual and you are almost at the base of Chandragad. You can also see arrow marks on the stones indicating the route. It takes almost 4 – 5 hours to reach this point. You can now see Chandragad towards your left.
The route to Dhawale village continues along the valley and goes around Chandragad. Continue on the mud trail for another 20 – 30 minutes till you see a small village at a distance this is Shelarwadi. You will see the trail to Shelarwadi gently turns towards the left as it turns around the ridge. You will see the trail now crosses the fields. Proceed ahead on the trail; the trail to Shelarwadi gently climbs up. You can either stay at Shelarwadi if you plan to do Chandragad the next day or proceed ahead to Dhawale village which is a larger village. It takes around 20-30 minutes to reach Dhawale village from Shelarwadi.
Day 2: Dhawale Village (1500 ft) – Chandragad (3500 ft) – Dhawale Village (1500 ft), 7 – 8 kms, 3 – 4 hours
You need to start early today as Chandragad is completely barren on the top. You need to reach Shelarwadi from Dhawale village which takes around 20 – 30 minutes. The trail to Chandragad passes through the fields.
The trail goes parallel to Dhawale river 50 – 75 feet’s above the river bank. Also you can see terrace farming on the banks of Dhawale river. Proceed ahead on the mud trail bypassing Shelarwadi. You will see the trail passes through thorny bushes of reddish berry (locally called ‘Karvand’). Another 15 – 20 minutes into the hike and you will see the trail turn rights.
You will see the trail gradually climbs up through the woods. Chandragad trail is easy to finds as you see “Om NamahShivay” boards written in local language all along the way while climbing the fort. Another 15 – 20 minutes and you come across an open space covered with dry grass and karvi shrubs. You can now see the barren rock slope that you need to climb up. Also you can see “Chandragad Darshan” board written in local language. From Shelarwadi it takes almost 40 – 50 minutes to reach this spot. Continue on the trail that climbs up the steep slope. You can see a few trees spread out on the entire rock slope. After climbing up for 20 – 30 minutes on the steep scree slope you come across a few boulders and some shade where you can take some rest. The slope is quite steep and tiresome hence it is recommended to climb Chandragad early morning before 8:30 AM to avoid direct sun-light. After taking brief rest proceed ahead on the scree slope. Another 15 – 20 minutes into the hike and you get at the point where you get enthralling view of Dhawale river. Another few minutes into the hike and you are greeted by the final rock patch. The rock-patch is a little exposed and hence you need to negotiate it carefully. It takes 5 – 10 minutes to complete this last stage. It takes around 1.5 hours to reach the top from Shelarwadi.
On the top you come across beautifully stone carved Shivling of Dhawaleshwar Mahadev accompanied by Nandi. From the top you get magnificent views of the Dhawale Ghat valley that you descended yesterday.You also get commanding view of Dhawale village from the top. You will see that Chandragad is small fort and has deep valleys on both the sides.From the Shivling proceed straight ahead on the ridge.
You come across few boulders. The final climb is through the natural steps formed by small rocks. It takes you to one end of the fort where you see some fortification still intact. From here you have breath-taking views of Arthur Seat point, Koleshwar and Raireshwar plateau on your left and Mahabaleshwar plateau towards your right. It takes around 20 – 30 minutes to explore the entire fort. You come across a few water tanks on the fort some of which have potable water.There is a water tank right next to the Shiva temple.The trail down is much more challenging because of the scree and you need to be extremely careful. Continue on the trail that you took to climb up. It takes around 1 – 1.5 hours to retrace your steps back to Shelarwadi and another 20 – 30 minutes to reach Dhawale village.
It takes around 3 – 4 hours to complete the entire trek, which leaves you some time to spare. If you have some spare time you can also visit the Tanaji Malusaresmarak in Umarth village which is 7 – 8 kms from Dhawale village. Also If you have an extra day in hand you can do Mangalgad (Kangori fort).
➤ How to Get Fit for the Trek
The secret to ascending any trail lies in building your cardiovascular endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Ideally, you should be able to jog 4 km in 20 minutes before the start of the trek. It takes time to be able to cover this distance in the given time. Start slow and increase your pace everyday. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too. Strength This is another area you should work on. You will need to build strength in your muscles and in your core body. You can do some squats to strengthen your leg muscles. Do around 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set. Apart from this, you can add planks and crunches to your work out.
Another aspect that will help you trek comfortably is flexibility. For this, you can do some stretching exercises – stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek. Working out indoors
➤ What to Take on Your Trek
No, stuffing it all in isn’t the right way to do it Packing a backpack correctly saves precious time that you might waste trying to find your things later. It is wise to spend some time on learning what really goes into packing a backpack.
What should I pack? On a trek, you only get what you take. Something as simple as a forgotten matchbox can cripple your cooking plans throughout the trek. So, it’s essential to prepare early and prepare well. To begin with, make a checklist. While shopping, remember this thumb rule – keep it light. “Every item needs to be light. This ensures that your backpack, on the whole, stays light,” says Sandhya UC, co-founder of Indiahikes. Balancing out heavy items with light ones isn’t going to have the same effect as having all light items. “Always opt for good quality, light items,” says Sandhya.
How much should my bag weigh?
“Your backpack for a weekend trek should weigh between 8 and 10 kg,” explains Arjun Majumdar, co-founder of Indiahikes, “To break it down, your tent should weigh around 2.5 kg, your sleeping bag, around 1.5 kg, and the ration, stove and clothes should constitute the other 5 kg.” The best way to plan is by concentrating on the basic necessities – food, shelter and clothes. Gather only those things that you’ll need to survive. Do not pack for ‘if’ situations. “That’s one of the common mistakes that people make – packing for ‘if situations’. It only adds to the baggage that you can do without on a trek,” says Sandhya.
One good way to go about it is to prepare a list of absolute essentials. Start with the most essential and end with the least essential. That way, when you feel you are overshooting the limit, you can start eliminating from the bottom. Another tip is to be smart while packing clothes. Invest in light. wash and wear fabrics. “Replace a sweater with two t-shirts,” adds Sandhya. Layering is the mantra when it comes to trekking. Refer to Sandhya’s clothes list to pack smart.
How to pack The thumb rule for this one is to eliminate air spaces. Make sure that everything is packed tightly, especially clothes and jackets, as they tend to take up maximum air space. Put in all the large items first. Then squeeze in the smaller ones in the gaps. This ensures minimum air space. A good way to pack clothes is by using the Ranger Roll method.
Where to pack Bottom Sleeping bag: Make this your base layer. Sleeping bags tend to be voluminous, but do not weigh much. They’re perfect for the bottom of the bag. Tent: Just like the sleeping bag, even tents are voluminous and light. Keep the tent poles separately and place the fabric at the bottom of the backpack. Middle Heavy jacket: Roll up the jacket in a tight ball and place it in the middle of the backpack, close to your back. The middle region of the backpack should always have the heaviest items. You can store other things like ration or mini stoves in the middle. Other clothes: Roll other clothes and place them in the remaining space, to fill air gaps.
Top Water: Water, although heavy, needs to be easily accessible. So put it in the top most region of your backpack. Medicine box: This is another component that you wouldn’t want to be scavenging for when in need. Poncho: It could rain at any time in the mountains. So, ponchos should be accessible easily. Also, having a waterproof poncho at the top of the backpack provides additional waterproofing to items in the bag.
Trek penned down by Vinita Chhatwani