Harihar, a fort built in 1600 during the Yadava period, stands stands proudly near Igatpuri, Maharashtra. It offers breath taking views of the valleys around. For the intrepid trekker, there is a variety of terrain ranging from plains and forests to carved stone steps until you reach the peak. If you are in search of an easy and mesmerizing trek around Mumbai or Nashik, Harihar Fort Trek is what you must try.
Before you begin:
If you plan to trek in monsoon, ensure you wear shoes with good grip. The steps often have moss on them. This can be extremely slippery and dangerous
Natural water sources are available only in monsoon. In other seasons, ensure you carry sufficient water.
Harihar Trek Guide
- Altitude: 3,676 ft
- Time taken: 4-5 hours
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Flat walk four about 15 minutes followed by gradual ascent for an hour. Steep ascent for the final climb to the fort. Return is all descent.
- Water sources: Stream around 20 minutes from the starting point. Pond at the top. These are available only in monsoon.
Proceed in the direction of the Trimbak range. The trail moves away from the village towards the range crossing the paddy fields. You will notice that trail gradually climbs up after passing through the fields for 10 – 15 minutes. You will reach a forest in 15 minutes. Continue on the trail. If you visit during monsoon, you’ll reach a stream in another 10 minutes. The bed of the stream is easily identifiable even in other seasons.
Cross the stream and continue on the trail ahead. From here the trail starts to move a little away from Harihar Fort towards the left. Keep climbing through this zigzag trail until you reach a plateau about 35-40 mins later. The hill that you have been climbing to reach this plateau is between the FaniDongar on the left and Harihar fort on the right. The route until the plateau is easy.
You’ll notice multiple trails on the plateau. The trail to the right goes to Harihar Fort. This goes through a forest for about 10 minutes and brings you to the rock-cut steps.
The real ascent begins at the steps. The first flight of stairs is straight. Be careful during monsoons. Climb one step at a time to avoid slipping. The second flight of stairs is broken and winding to some extent. The stairs have pocket-like grooves which you can use to get a better grip while climbing.
After this, the route becomes narrow. Only one person can climb at a time. Proceed carefully, facing the rock. Remember this during the descent as well. This narrow route leads you to the entrance of the fort. Now the area is open and windy. The summit right in front of you but there are a few more points to see before you get there.
The first stop is a Shiva and Hanuman temple that is painted saffron. Next stop is a small pond which has fresh water during monsoons, making it your water point right before the final climb.
The final point is a small structure that can accommodate around 15-20 people in two rooms. It is not suitable for staying overnight but could be good for a quick nap/rest.
After about 3 hours of trekking you reach the final 10 ft climb to the highest point of the trek. You see a large saffron flag is hoisted there. Look for views of Vaitarna reservoir and Brahmagiri once you’re on top. You get wonderful 360 degree views of the Sahyadris from here.
The descent is back on the same path. Be very careful during the descent, especially during monsoons. Face the wall while coming down the steps. Patience is the key.
Overnight stay options:
You can rent a room from a villager at Nirgupada village at the base or pitch a tent at the plateau on the way up. Water sources on the trail are available only in monsoon. Be mindful of the wind if you decide to pitch a tent.
If you plan to do visit in winter or summer, you can also do this as a night trek and reach the top by sunrise. Catch the last local train from CST to Kasara at 12.30 am. Hire a local jeep from Kasara to reach to reach Nirgupada by 4.00 am and start the trek immediately.
Documentation inputs from Vinita Chhatwani & Nikita Chhabra.
- With its easy terrain and panoramic views throughout the trek, Harihar fort attracts trekkers with a range of experience – from beginners to experienced ones like Doug Scott, a legendary Himalayan mountaineer who climbed the vertical drops of Scottish kada (Nirgudpada) in November 1986.
- Harihar brings to you a different type of stone staircase which has been cut for providing trekkers with a pocket like grip to climb easily.
- While some people might avoid this trek in peak monsoons because of slippery rocks, we say the wind and the rains add to the adventure.
- The fort is situated amidst the huge Vaitarna dam and the Trimbakeshwar mountain ranges offer stunning views of the area around. The fort is well supplied with water and can be attempted in any season.