The Complete Guide to the Dhodap Fort Trek
The Dhodap Fort Trek takes you to the second-highest fort in Maharashtra.
Unknown to many, the fort offers great trekking experiences one can ask for. Packed with many surprises the Dhodap Fort Trek has a variety that stands out to make it one of the best treks to do in Maharashtra. It is a joy and a trekker’s paradise.
Dhodap Fort trek is a delight and a treat for those who like exploring and you get the right dose of adventure.
The trek has so much to offer that we have heard trekkers saying of ending up with a feeling of not exploring the trek enough, even after having done this multiple times. The trek is on the vast and wide plateau that climbs up into three levelled forts.
It has a rich history where the fort belonged to Nizams up to the 16th century. Later it was captured by the Peshwas until the Marathas took over this fort and used it as a jail. The fort later went into the hands of the British when they conquered the Marathas in 1818.
The unique features on the trek and the arched doorway take you back in time. With the views from a height of 4,750 feet, the trek is a magical one to attempt when timed in the right season.
➤ Table of Contents
Just like you, we love trekking! And this is a trek we’ve documented in great detail to help you do it on your own. Drop-in comments at the end of the page if you need any help! You will get all the information required to do the Dhodap Fort trek on your own.
To navigate through the documentation easily, use this section of the Table of Contents
- What to Watch Out for
- Trail Information
- GPX File for the trek
- Best Season to do the trek
- Difficult Sections
- How to Reach the base of the trek
- Permission, Water Sources and other finer details about the trek
- Nearby Places to Visit after the trek
- Things to Take for the trek
➤ What to Watch Out for
1. Unique Shape with the Magmatic Dike
Geographically blessed with a very exclusive shape, it looks like a piece of rock has been cut out. The cut is a natural formation and prominent to the eye from a far off distance.
It is also called a dike. A dike is a sheet of rock formed in a fracture of a pre-existing rock body.
The appearance on the Dhodap plateau is very exclusive to this trek. Picture by Kartik Mehta
This steep magmatic dike would have formed when magma flowed in this crack and then solidified later.
2. Views from the Dhodap Fort
The views from Dhodap are spectacular. Being the second highest fort, you can get a bird’s eye view of the entire region.
One can view the Saptashrungi, Markandya Fort, Rawlya, Jawlya Forts on one side.
Views from the Dhodap Fort. Here you can spot Ravlya, Javlya and Kanhergad Fort. Picture by Kartik Mehta
On the other hand, you have the views of the twin forts of Kanchana-Manchana, Kanhergad. To the east is another prominent view of the Ikhara Pinnacle. This pinnacle stays with you throughout the trek.
3. Ancient Caves, Arch Gateways, Temples, and Settlements on the three levelled Plateau
Dhodap Fort Trek is filled with history and gems hidden on the three levels of the plateau.
Each level offers a different surprise. The trek is filled with idols, temples, arches with Farsi inscriptions, and even a two-storied step well.
Remnants of Caves . Picture by Kartik Mehta
As you climb higher into the different levels of the plateaus, the fort reveals more and takes you through the different sections of the Dhodap Fort.
➤ Trail Information
Dhodap Fort Trek can be divided into three sections.
1. Trek from Hatti Village to the Sonar Machi (First Plateau)
2. Sonarmachi to second level Plateau
3. Second level to the final Dhodap Machi
Apart from the three main sections, you can explore the trek in and out to find surprises all the time.
Trail Map of Dhodap Fort Trek. Source: Google Earth. Photo Courtesy Suhas Saya
Trek Distance: 2.21 km (3.54 km to be added when exploring both sides of the Sonar Machi plateau)
Trek Duration: 40 minutes (1 hour 30 mins to be added for the exploring time)
GPS coordinates of Hatti Village: 20°21’56.3″N 74°02’07.1″E
GPS coordinates of First Plateau: 20°22’54.6″N 74°02’03.2″E
Start your trek early in the morning from the Hatti Village. The trail for the trek from the road head leads you towards the North through a small mud trail by the side of the village.
The magnificent Dhodap Fort with its unique shape will be visible right in front of your eyes.
View of Dhodap from the trail of Hatti Village. Picture by Saini Krishnamurthy
Carry on the trail which is well laid. The ascent from the farmlands of Hatti to the Sonar Machi, the first plateau takes you about half an hour.
The initial trek is through a very easy walk along the farmlands. Once you reach the end of the farmlands, the initial trek takes you through sparse vegetation. The next climb to the Sonar Machi now is about 700 feet of climb.
Once you enter the Sonar Machi, the vastness of this plateau will blow you away. Spread wide and far, you will be eager to just go out and explore.
Arch doorways on the Sonar Machi leading to the fort. Picture by Saini Krishnamurthy
Exploring this plateau will easily take you an hour or an hour and a half if you look at each hidden gem on the Sonarmachi. Both sides of the plateau have rich history and surprises to uncover.
Stone Idol of Hanuman. Picture by Kartik Mehta
From the beautiful Arch doorways to many stone idols of Hanuman, Shiva, and Shankar temple.
Iron Ladders on the trail. Picture by Kartik Mehta
You also have the fortress surrounding this plateau. Go on either side, the eastern or western front of the plateau and you have water bodies or like natural lakes at most times of the year.
Also, to your surprise, you will find a few settlements of people on this plateau. These are mostly Goldsmiths who have lived over many generations here. This is one of the reasons for this plateau getting the name of Sonar Machi.
Another highlight of this Sonar Machi is the construction of the unique two-storied stepwell. There are steps leading down to the well. This is usually seen in Rajasthan or Gujarat. To see this here on the plateau is uncommon. The water here is however not potable.
A two-storied stepwell on the Dhodap Fort Trek. Picture by Kartik Mehta
If you are camping for the night, then it’s better to explore the plateau in the early hours of the morning when the sun is still not high up.
Download the GPX file where we have marked all the water sources available on this trek. This will come in handy to plan your trek in advance before you hit the trail.
Water Source on the western side of the Sonar Machi. Picture by Kailesh Padvekar
The Eastern side of the plateau will take you about 40 minutes to explore while the western side would take around half an hour.
Trek Distance: 1.45 km
Trek Duration: 20 minutes
GPS coordinates of First Plateau: 20°22’54.6″N 74°02’03.2″E
GPS coordinates of Second Plateau: 20°23’03.1″N 74°01’57.4″E
The trail from the Sonarmachi now takes a slightly more ascent when you move further to the second levelled plateau. The trail is very well laid out. The climb takes you around 500 feet which can be covered in 20 minutes.
Go for a quick exploration as you are about to enter the second plateau. You can spot rock carvings of idols. You have a few watchpoints where you get views of the surrounding. There is also a small water source on this level before heading to the second plateau.
About a few more minutes on the trek, you have the railings with rock steps cut out. You also have a big ladder set up for support and to navigate a steep section. Climb this section.
Heading towards the Second Level Plateau. Picture by Kartik Mehta
The steps continue to climb up with the lovely arches. If you are trekking during the monsoon season, even more brilliant. You will see a carpet of wildflowers adding to the charm of these arches of the fort.
Enter through an arched doorway and observe more closely to see Farsi inscriptions laid out by the Peshwas when the fort was ruled during the 16th century. Not many forts have these inscriptions written on them.
Vast Blue sky. Picture by Kartik Mehta
You enter the real fort! You start unraveling a box of more surprises. There are more doorways that take you to different sections of the fort. Enter the remnants of the fort and get lost with the feeling of going back in time when this was built.
Doorway to Balekila. Picture by Suhas Paranjpe
You also get views from bastions and points where guards in the early times might have used to keep an eye out.
From one of the viewpoints on the second plateau. Picture by Saini Krishnamurthy
A bit of a detour to your right and you get a chance to explore some really amazing caves! Not many go here since the trail is not well laid out. However, these caves are a wonder to visit. Few of these caves are cut in the shape of a square while others are natural with rocks. It resembles the shape of a rectangle and cut naturally.
Night sky from Dhodap. Picture by Kartik Mehta
From here, you can take a traverse to your final section to Dhodap.
Trek Distance: 2.30 km
Trek Duration: 1 hour
GPS coordinates for Second Plateau: 20°23’03.1″N 74°01’57.4″E
GPS coordinates for Final Dhodap Plateau: 20°22’58.4″N 74°01’39.1″E
The traverse from the second plateau takes you to the third plateau of Dhodap. Go towards the cleft where the massive drop or the slice of the dike can be seen from close up. The pathway is covered by railings.
View of the dike. Picture by Saini Krishnamurthy.
Look at this huge dike formation for some time and the other side of the plateau which cannot be traversed.
Walk back to the pinnacle of the fort. There is a trail or an approach that leads you to the base of the pinnacle where a naturally formed cave is something you shouldn’t miss out on.
Walk back to explore the fort of Dhodap. Picture by Kartik Mehta
Reaching the pinnacle is not easy. You need ropes from the base of the pinnacle and a technical climb to reach the top.
You can stop your trek here. There is a natural cave on the fort. Enter the cave, sit for some time to enjoy the experience, and reflect on the views from the cave.
Caves can be used to rest, from here you can see the Ikhara Pinnacle at a distance. Picture by Kartik Mehta
The way down or the descent is the same way to the trail that you have taken up. It will take you around an hour and a half to reach back to the Hatti village.
➤ Best Season to do the Dhodap Trek
The best season to do Dhodap trek is from August to February.
During the monsoon season of August, September, the flowers on the trail and the lush greenery will be something to watch out.
After the first spell of monsoon season, go during these two months to look at the carpet of flowers. But it can be a hit and miss to catch this if the timings of the monsoon season changes in the year.
The trek is also good to be done post-monsoon and the winter season. If you are going to camp on the trek, witness the clear night skies. It is a bliss for stargazing and also going for a hike in the morning to see the sunrise.
Beautiful colors of sunrise with the Ikhara Pinnacle. Picture by Saini Krishnamurthy.
The winter months will be pleasant. The trek opens out with clear and crisp views from the fort.
➤ Difficult sections on the Dhodap Fort Trek
The Dhodap Fort trek is of moderate difficulty if you are approaching from Hatti or the Kanherwadi route. If you have good fitness, then even first-timers can go on the trek.
The other two routes from other plateaus are longer and require good knowledge of technical, terrain skills.
There are no sections on the Hatti route which can be marked as difficult apart from the last climb to the pinnacle. For the climb to the pinnacle, you need ropes and climbing equipment.
Be careful when trekking in the monsoon. The trail can be slippery. So watch out while climbing the iron ladder and the last section traverse to the third plateau.
➤ How to reach Dhodap Fort Trek
The Dhodap Fort Trek starts from a small village called Hatti in the Nashik district of the Maharashtra state.
Hatti village is about 60 km from Nashik.
Reaching Dhodap Fort by your own vehicle
If you are planning on reaching Hatti using your own vehicle from Mumbai, you can use this link to help setup navigation in google maps.
Head on the AH 43, Mumbai-Agra highway, and reach Nashik first.
From Nashik, head towards the Pimpalgaon Baswant city. You need to next head on the highway and take a left at Vadalibhoi. Your route now goes through Dhodambe.
Hatti village is about 15 km from Vadalibhoi now.
Reaching Dhodap Fort using Public Transport System
Reaching the Hatti village using the public transport system is not a preferred option. The main reason being it not being convenient or the lack of frequency of buses in travel.
From Mumbai, head towards Nashik. You can take the express trains from Mumbai Central to Nashik.
This is where the journey from Nashik to Hatti village gets challenging.
Either stay at Nashik for the night and take a bus early in the morning. This way you will reach Hatti village by morning 8 am.
You can take a bus that goes on the Mumbai-Agra highway. At a distance of 55 km from Nashik, is the Wadalibhoi junction. From here, head towards the Dhodambe village which is at a distance of 9 km from this junction.
To get to Dhodambe, you can get a jeep / 6 seater rickshaw from Wadalibhoi junction. After Dhodambe, it is difficult to get a vehicle to go all the way to Hatti. You can get a vehicle if you pay full fare.
Nearest International and Domestic Airport
Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai – 240 km
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➤ Frequently asked questions about Dhodap Fort Trek
Permission and Camping on the Dhodap Fort trek
You don’t need any prior permission on the trek of Dhodap Fort.
Camping is also possible on the trek. You can think of camping either in the first plateau of Sonar Machi or the last level of the plateau.
Tip: Camp in the last plateau. You have a water source with a reservoir. Also, camping here will help you witness the lovely view of the sun rising across the horizon. The Ikhara Pinnacle shines when the sun rises from the east and is a magical sight to watch out for.
Timings on the Dhodap Fort Trek
You need to reach the base village of Hatti for this trek.
The best option for trekkers from Mumbai is to leave late in the night and travel to Nashik first. It would take about two and a half hours to three hours to reach Nashik.
You can either choose to stay at Nashik or if you are traveling in a group, take a jeep and reach Hatti village. The earlier you start the trek from Hatti, the better it is going to be.
Food and Water source on the Dhodap Trek
You need to carry food for the trail. If you want to have lunch at Hatti village, you can inform the villagers before climbing up.
They will prepare food and have it ready if you inform them in advance.
Don’t expect any restaurant or more amenities. Hatti is a small village. You can expect the basic chai and snacks stalls.
For water sources: The first option is to fill two bottles of water from the Hatti village itself.
The other options are on the plateau while trekking.
You will find a water source on the first plateau, Sonar machi which has good potable water.
Even the top plateau has a water reservoir where you can fill water.
Tip: If you are not comfortable with having water from the stream or the waterfalls, carry purification tablets or a life straw bottle to purify the water.
Different Routes for the Dhodap Trek
Hatti is the most popular route and the preferred route to take approaching Dhodap Fort. The Hatti approach is a much more gentle and easier trail to take.
However, the approach to the Sonar Machi or the first plateau can be taken by four routes in total. From the Sonar Machi, there is only one trail to take later.
The first approach has been documented in detail.
The second approach is from Kanherwadi which is slightly shorter and steeper. You will enter the plateau of Sonar Machi from the eastern side.
Approaching Sonar Machi . The climb to Sonar Machi is steeper from this trail. Picture by Kartik Mehta
There are two more routes to the Dhodap plateau. One via the Rawlya, Zalya plateau, and the other from Kanchana Machana fort. Both these are much longer trails. It will take about 5-6 hours to navigate upwards. You need to know the geographical approach and the routes well. Also be adequately prepared to approach the difficult patches with equipment and gears.
Emergency contacts for Dhodap Fort Trek
Hospital: The closest hospital to the Hatti village will be at Pimpalgaon which is about 30 km from Hatti village.
Radhakrishna Hospital (Contact Number – +912550252020) and Primary Health Centre (Government Hospital) are the ones that you can rely on.
Leelavathi Hospital (Contact Number – +912532530463) and Lokmanya Hospital (Contact Number – +912532303381) are about 60 km away from the base village of Hatti.
Police Station: The local closest police station is at Vadalibhoi.
For a bigger station, the next closet will be at Pimpalgaon (Contact Number – +912550250033). This police station is around 30 km from Hatti Village.
Police stations in Nashik will be around 60 km from Hatti Village.
ERSS: For any kind of emergency help, you can contact the Pan-India Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) number- 112
ATMs and Network on the trek
ATMs: Nashik will be the most reliable place to take your cash out before heading out to Hatti village. There are few ATMs on the highway in the towns of Pimpalgaon and Dhodambe. If you are taking your own vehicle, then you can try here as well.
Mobile Networks: The network is not great at Hatti village. You get some intermittent signal of BSNL and Vodafone while trekking on the plateaus with major network providers. But don’t count on this all the time.
➤ Places to visit after the Dhodap Fort Trek
The eastern face from Dhodap Fort sees a fearsome cliff named Ikhara. This place is ideal and a paradise for rock climbers. A very technical pinnacle to climb.
Ikhara Pinnacle from Dhodap fort. Picture by Saini Krishnamurthy
You need to carry ropes, belay for any technical climb. Otherwise, you can explore and do some bouldering.
Kanchana Fort is a hill fort in the Nashik district of Maharashtra. The fort is located in the Ajantha-Saatmal Mountain range.
Kanchana-Manchana Forts. Picture by Saini Krishnamurthy
Rawlya fort and Javlya fort are twin forts located on a single hill plateau. Rawlya Fort is on the west and Jawlya comes on the east side of the hill plateau.
Jawlya Fort. Notice Dhodap Fort in the backdrop. Picture by Saini Krishnamurthy
The fort is filled with a lot of history. It is believed that the holy Hindu sage Markandeya lived in the fort and punished the Bhimasur and other demons who were attacking Bhramin priests.
Markendeya Fort.Picture by Saini Krishnamurthy
➤ What to Pack for Dhodap Fort Trek
- Basic First Aid kit*
- Identity Card
- Cap/ Scarf/ Bandana & Sunglasses
- Water (Minimum two litres)
- Lemon and salt OR Electrolyte Powder/Drink (Electral/Gatorade/Glucon D, etc.)
- High-calorie snacks (Nuts & dry fruits, home-baked cake, etc.)
- Safety Pins, Rubber bands & Whistle (Useful in emergencies.)
- Quick Dry T-shirts are preferable over cotton tees.
- Poncho, only during monsoons
- Plastic sheet to wrap electronic devices, only during monsoons
- Sunscreen (SPF 50+)
- Optional: Trekking poles
*First aid kit:
- Band aids (Regular & Waterproof)
- Analgesic spray (Relispray, Volini, etc.)
- Antiseptic Liquid (Savlon, Dettol etc.)
- Antiseptic powder (Povidone-Iodine based powders like Cipladine, Savlon, etc.)
- Cotton roll & Bandage
- Crepe Bandage
- 1 inch wide medical tape (paper or cloth.)
- Micropore tape
- Tablet for motion sickness (Avomine), Acidity (Gelusil, Digene, etc.).
- Mild pain relief tablet (Crocin)
| Note: Always consult a doctor before taking any medicine.
➤ Trek Contribution
Trek done by Saini Krishnamurthy.
Special thanks to Kartik Mehta , Saini Krishnamurthy and Suhas Paranjpe for the pictures of this trek.
Banner Image by Suhas Paranjpe. Photo sourced & Edited by Sneha.G.Iyer
The trek was written and documented by Suhas Saya