The Complete Guide to the Durg Dhakoba Trek
Durg and Dhakoba are the two prominent peaks on the plateau between Naneghat and Bhimashankar ranges in Pune. Since they are at 3,900 and 4,100 feet respectively, they offer commanding views of the ranges around. One can camp at Durg temple or Dhakoba temple, both of which are located between thickets. If attempted from the Konkan side, the trek involves climbing up and down steep ghats, which is quite a challenging task, even for experienced trekkers.
Beginners can attempt this from the Deccan side with little effort and enjoy the grandeur of the Western Ghats. The sheer vertical cliffs descending on the Konkan side offer exhilarating exposure. This trek can also be extended to a 4-5 day trek by covering Ahupe, Siddhgad and Bhimashankar ranges. While Durg is a fort, Dhakoba is a tall mountain. From Durg – Dhakoba plateau, one can see the Bhimashankar forest, Ahupe, Damdamia, Gorakhgad, Machindragad and Siddhgad on one side and Amboli Ghat, Jivdhan and Naneghat on the other. The two are situated at the origin of Kukdi River. They fall under Junnar Taluka of Pune district, conveniently accessible from most parts of Maharastra.
The whole range between Durg Dhakoba and Bhimashankar is a flat plateau with peaks and thick forests in between. You will find a few tribal hamlets in these forests. To the south of Naneghat and Jivdhan is Dhakoba, while Durg stands behind it. Both these forts are situated in a relatively deserted area.
➤ Highlights of the Trek
A mishmash of forests, meadows, hills and streams – a night away from Mumbai
- You’d be surprised that vast mountain ranges like these can exist so close to an urban jungle like Mumbai!
- Filled with dense forests and beautiful meadows, a trek to Durg and Dhakoba will take you away from noise to a land of peace and beauty over a weekend.
➤ Trail Information
Day 1: Rampur – Khutedara ghat – Durg Temple – Durg Fort
- Altitude: 3,900 ft
- Distance: 8-10 km
- Time taken: 5-6 hours
Start early from Mumbai. You could even reach Rampur the previous night if you wish. From Rampur, head in the direction of the mountain range, keeping Naneghat on your left at a 9 o’clock position. Carry enough water as there are no water sources on the way. You will see a broad cart trail coming from the village towards the mountain range. The trail passes through fields and reaches a meadow in around 15 – 20 minutes. You can see the complete mountain range from here, along with the Khutedara ghat that you will be climbing up soon. Towards your left, you can still see Naneghat and towards the right, you can see Trigundhari Ghaat (Doni cha daar) going towards Doni village. Continue on the trail for 15 – 20 minutes till the trail enters the woods.
After 15 – 20 minutes through the thickets, you will see that the trail gradually starts to ascend. The ascent gets steeper and steeper till you come across a 7 – 8 feet rock patch. It takes around an hour from the village to reach this point. You can see the Sonavale Lake along with Naneghat on the extreme right. Take a quick break here to recharge your batteries. The trail ahead is completely covered with thick grass and moves towards the right from the rock patch.
After a while, the trail alternates between grass slopes and thick woods. Another 45 – 50 minutes into the hike, notice the tree-line coming to an end. Continue for 5 – 10 minutes and you come across another rocky patch that is 10 – 12 feet high. After crossing the rock patch, the trail passes through thick grass. If you go post-monsoon, you might find that the trail isn’t visible because of thick forest growth. After 45 minutes, you can see the tree line and thick forested patch below. It takes around 3 – 4 hours to reach this point. Continue on the trail for another 25 – 30 minutes and you hit a rock wall on your left. The final slope of the Khutedara ghat is basically loose soil with small rocks. Continue on the trail till you reach the top of the range.
It takes around 4 – 5 hours to reach this point from Rampur village. Once you reach the top, you can see Dhakoba towards your left. The top is a huge lush plateau covered with lovely yellow flowers. The trail moves left in the direction of the thickets. It takes 20 – 30 minutes to reach the Durg temple from here.
You can see that the Durg temple is amidst a dense forest. The trail going to the other side of the Durg temple comes from Durgawadi village. You need to take this trail to reach the water source (small lake), which is around 5 – 10 minutes away from the temple. You will see that the trail leads to a huge meadow, where the lake is on the right side. There is a small single room structure which has been reduced to shambles just outside the forest. It can still be used for cooking and stay. Ahead, you see a cart route coming from Durgawadi all the way until the water source. You can visit the fort, which is another 30 minutes from the temple.
Day 2: Durg Temple – Dhakoba – Darya Ghat – Ishtyachi wadi
- Altitude (Dhakoba): 4,100 ft
- Distance: 12-14 km
- Time taken: 7-8 hours
The Durg – Dhakoba traverse is a long one and it is challenging to find the route, as the trail passes through dense forests and huge meadows in between. It is advisable to start the day early.
Trace your steps back to the Durg temple. Note that there are two trails – one that goes straight; one that climbs to the right into the woods. Proceed on the trail that goes straight towards the plateau between Durg and Dhakoba. The one that climbs up on the right takes you to Durg fort. It takes 15 – 20 minutes to get back to the edge of the plateau. You can see Durg fort on your right and Gorakhgad and Machindragad on your left.
Continue walking in the direction of Dhakoba fort. You will see that the trail gradually climbs up on the right into the thickets. After 10 – 15 minutes, the trail emerges out of the woods and onto the plateau once again. The plateau is a little uneven and the trail alternately climbs up and down as it passes through thick vegetation. After 20 – 30 minutes of walking on the plateau, the trail gradually climbs up and passes through Karvi shrubs and cactus. From here, you can see Durg Fort right behind you.
The views of Gorakhgad and Machindragad on the way to Dhakoba are breathtaking. It takes an hour to reach this point from Durg temple. The trail passes through thickets once again. After 10 – 15 minutes, you emerge out of the woods onto the plateau. The trail alternates between meadows and thickets. Dhakoba Fort is clearly visible from here. Continue on the trail that crosses the meadows to reach the base of Dhakoba massif. It takes around 20 – 25 minutes to cross the meadow and reach the foothills of Dhakoba that is surrounded by thick forests.
You also come across a small stream flowing across the meadow. Some sections of the stream contain water until January – February. It takes around 90 minutes to reach this point. Ahead, the trail passes through thick woods and emerges into a meadow. There is a tree in the middle of the meadow that can provide you with some shade on a sunny day. A trail going left from here takes you to Dhakoba fort. Another trail on the right takes you to Dhakoba temple. Continue on the trail straight ahead bypassing Dhakoba on your left. The trail passes through thickets to emerge into yet another meadow between Dhakoba and Darya ghat.
From here, you get majestic views of Jivdhan and Vanarlingi with Nanacha Angtha (Naneghat) in the backdrop. The trail goes parallel to the edge of the ridge for 10 – 15 minutes and enters into the thickets. After passing through the thickets for a few minutes, the trail gradually climbs down to a meadow along the edge of the ridge. From the meadow you can see a stream to the right flowing down all the way to Amboli Dam. You can also see Amboli village and Amboli Dam far away. It takes around 3.5 – 4 hours to reach this point from Durg temple. The trail continues on the edge of the ridge. As you continue on the trail downhill the descent gets steeper and steeper. After 30 – 45 minutes, you reach a small temple on way to Darya ghat.
From here, the trail bifurcates into two. The route to the right goes to Amboli and the one to the left goes to Palu via Ishtyachi Wadi. The descent from here is steep and dangerous. Take the trail that goes on the left. Another 25 – 30 minutes into the hike and the trail swerves to the right. After 25 – 30 minutes, the trail climbs down through a nala (waterfall route). The trail requires hopping over small rocks and boulders. You also come across some small rock patches en-route. After 25 – 30 minutes, you come across huge boulders where you can also take a small break. Continue descending down the nala route. You will see that the trail turns gentle towards the end. The last few minutes of the trek are through thickets. You can see the Dhakoba pinnacle from the opening in the woods. The trail moves towards the left. After 10 – 15 minutes you reach a small wadi. It takes around 2 – 2.5 hours to reach here from the stone temple. Palu village is around a kilometre and a half away from here.
➤ 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 pack for the 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
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.
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.
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 Contribution
Trek penned down by Vinita Chhatwani