The Complete Guide to Rajmachi Trek
Rajmachi Trek is nestled in the midst of two popular hill stations – Lonavala and Karjat. The trek can be approached either via the Lonavala side or the Karjat side and offers trekkers to climb two forts starting from the same base village of Udhewadi.
Manaranjan Fort is at 2510 feet and west-facing fort while Shriwardhan Fort at 2710 feet faces to the east.
This trek is known for the fireflies which flock to the area in the late evenings.
If you are trekking via Lonavala, the trail is much longer but easier to trek and reach the two forts. You will be trekking through mud trails along the forest section most of the way until you reach Udhewadi.
The Kandala route starts at the caves and waterfalls of Khondane. This has a steeper climb through a forest section and joins Udhewadi village.
These forts were built by the Satavahanas but gained fame under the rule of Shivaji Maharaj, who took over the fort in the 15th century. Shivaji Maharaj fortified and expanded the fort by adding several structures within the premises. The forts have seen battles between the Marathas and the Mughals. Later in the 19th century, it was taken over by the British.
The fort was also a popular trade route connecting present-day Mumbai and Pune
Table of Contents
Use this section here to navigate through the documentation. You will get all the information required to do this Rajmachi trek on your own.
- What to watch out for
- Trail Information
- GPX File for the Rajmachi Trek
- The best time to do the Rajmachi Trek
- How to reach the base of the Rajmachi Trek
- Is Rajmachi Trek Difficult
- Permission, Water Sources, and other finer details about the trek
- Things to Take
- Nearby Places to Visit after the trek
What to watch out for
1. Views from the Twin Forts of Manaranjan and Shrivardhan
The forts offer a vantage point. Starting from the north, you get to see Madan point, Dhak Bahiri, and Bhimashankar. The south side offers views of Kataldhar, Lonavala, and Karjat.
Stunning Views of the valleys from the forts. Picture by Deep Thakkar.
You also get to see the valley which cuts through the Hill stations, moving ahead you will also see Valvan Dam, Tungarli Dam and also Duke’s nose at the end. You can also see the Monkey hill on the right from Shrivardhan fort.
The southeast (from your left), you get the glimpse of Kataldhar Waterfall(in Monsoons), the twin hill stations of Lonavala and Khandala.
2. Trekking through the rich flora and fauna of the Karjat and Khandala forests
The trek is filled with rich flora and fauna. The forests are home to many birds, lizards, and insects. There are instances of the sighting of the mighty leopards in this forest belt.
You won’t be disappointed choosing either the Lonavala side or the Karjat side. The trail involves trekking through thick forest land covered with trees on both sides of the valley.
3. A Trek for stargazing and for the views of Sunrise
Since the trek is on the outskirts of Mumbai and Pune, you get to witness clear night skies. The Rajmachi Trek is one of the best treks to camp and witness stars twinkling in the night sky. The trek can be extended as a 2-day trek. You can plan of starting from one side and finish at the other end as well.
Sunrise from the top of the fort. Picture by Deep Thakkar
The trek is also beautiful to witness the sunrise. If you are camping on the trek, do not miss the views from the fort when the dawn is about to hit with spectacular colors.
4. The Magical sight of Fireflies during the Pre-Monsoon season
Rajmachi trek is famous for the sightings of fireflies. You will be transported into a magical world with these beetles glowing post-sunset.
A long exposure shot of the fireflies flying during late evening/dusk. Picture by Deep Thakkar
Time your trek well. You will see this beautiful spectacle of bioluminescence in abundance just before the monsoon season.
The base of the trek starts from Udhewadi, a village in the Pune district of Maharashtra.
To reach Udhewadi, you can trek via two routes. Both the routes have their own distinctive highlights which are covered in the detailed description.
- Trek from Lonavala to Udhewadi
- Trail from Karjat to Udhewadi
From Udhewadi, the trek can be divided into three sections:
- Udhewadi Village to Bhairavnath Temple
- Climb to Manranjan Fort and back to the Bhairavnath temple
- Climb to the Shriwardhan and back to the base
Route Map of the Rajmachi Fort Trek. Screenshot on Google Earth Pro.
Trek Distance: 24.2 Kilometres (Two Way)
Trek Duration: 11 to 12 hours
GPS Coordinates of Tungarali Dam: 18°46’33.4″N 73°24’29.1″E
GPS Coordinates of Udhewadi/Base of the trek: 18°49’32.6″N 73°23’41.4″E
Trekkers starting from the Lonavala route can hire an auto-rickshaw from Lonavala station or walk around 3 km to reach the start point of Tungarali. This will take about 30 to 40 minutes. Fill your water bottles here. This is the only source until the base village if you are not trekking during the monsoon season.
There is an alternate option of driving in four-wheelers, jeeps, and off-road bikes until the base of the trek of Udhewadi. Many take this easier option to reach all the way to Udhewadi.
PROTIP: During the monsoon season, the roads can be very tricky to ride or drive. Off-road vehicles are best to be used if you are planning to drive. Do not take your normal bike or car. If you are trekking, then you don’t have to be too worried. You can start the trek until where the road is accessible by Autos or tumtums.
You need to start moving towards the North West from the dam. The trail takes you through the concrete road which turns into a mix of mud and gravel prone trail once the Dam ends.
Keep walking on the trail. You will first cross Nandgaon Village and you need to keep moving till you reach Captain’s Resort. Turn left on the trail which goes to Valvand and later towards Udhewadi which is your base camp/village of Rajmachi.
Trail from a distance. Picture by Mandar B
Do not take the trail to the right, this leads to another trek of Dhak Bahiri.
Once you cross the next village of Fanasrai, you will be entering into the Shirota forest. The forests of Shirota are known for a wide variety of fauna and flora. It is a thrill to just trek inside this forest section.
You will also be accompanied by many species of birds, insects, and reptiles. There have also been instances of leopard sightings on this trail. So be careful and pay attention when trekking in this forest section.
The trail is rich with flora. You will spot lots of tamarind trees, mango groves around the periphery of the forest. The trail is straight forward till you reach the Valvand Village Road Fork.
You will see a signboard here and come across two trails. Take the left trail for Udhewadi. The trail on the right will take us to another trek which is Shirota Lake at Valvand Village.
From the Valvand Fork, continue your trek on the left. The trail goes through a bit of up and down throughout. You will see streams flowing if you are trekking just after the monsoon season.
PROTIP: If you are trekking during the monsoon season and if rains are heavy, the stream can be overflowing. So do not go trekking solo during the monsoon season. It is easier to cross the stream as a team compared to as an individual.
View of Shriwardhan fort. Picture by Deep Thakkar
Once the stream is at your back, you come to see a small bridge and the trail starts to climb up gradually. You will now enter the plateau from where the first glimpse of Shrivardhan fort looms in front of you.
Keep Shrivardhan fort on your right, follow the trail till you see the Udhewadi Village. You will see the signboard with the forest entrance fees mentioned. You have now reached the base of your trek, Udhewadi.
Trek Distance: 10 kilometers (Two way)
Trek Duration: 5 to 6 hours
GPS Coordinates of Kondiwade Village: 18°51’44.8″N 73°22’36.1″E
GPS Coordinates of Udhewadi/Base of the trek: 18°49’32.6″N 73°23’41.4″E
For the trail from the Karjat side, you have to reach Kondiwade village to start your trek.
Once you reach the Karjat Railway Station, go towards the west side of Karjat. You can take an auto or a Tumtum (Six Seater) to the Kondivade Village which is 13 to 14 km from Karjat. Once you reach Kondiwade Village, keep walking till the outskirts of the Kondiwade village.
You will find Gupta’s Emu Park on the left with the signboard. Cross the park and there is a trail on the left which climbs gradually.
PROTIP: Follow the trail on the left. If you are not sure, you can talk with local villagers and get the direction.
Once you start on the trail, you will find a stream running on to your right side. The route goes along the stream which flows from Kondhane Waterfall. This is one of the tributaries for Ulhas River in the monsoons.
You will find lots of Maple trees and many tamarind trees through the forests.
Keep walking on the trail. There are markings with white arrows on a few specific points. After hiking for 2 hours you will come across the Kondhane Caves.
Spend some time here exploring the ancient Buddhist Caves. It is made up of 16 caves and was excavated during the first century BC.
The Marvelous Buddhist caves of Kondhane. Picture by Deep Thakkar
In the monsoon season, you will see the water flowing from above the top of the caves. The streams from here feed the Ulhas River in the monsoons.
After spending some time at the caves, it’s time to move towards the Rajmachi trail. You will notice a small trail on the right of caves that you need to take.
Walk on the trail till you find a signboard saying Rajmachi with the arrow mark. Keep walking on the marked trail and don’t change the trail as you would see the white arrow marks throughout the route.
View of the Ulhas River when trekking from the Kondiwade Village. Picture by Deep Thakkar
Once you reach the top of the hill, you can see the Ulhas River with the view of the mountains in the front. The route turns gradual from here onwards and it will take 35 to 45 minutes to reach your base village of Udhewadi.
Trek Distance: 540 meters
Trek Duration: 15 to 20 minutes
GPS Coordinates of Udhewadi: 18°49’32.6″N 73°23’41.4″E
GPS Coordinates of Bhairavnath Temple: 18°49’45.4″N 73°23’50.3″E
From Udhewadi, you need to now trek towards the trail which goes out of the village. If you were trekking from the Lonavala route, you would have seen this forest hut forest.
Trek in the direction of the Lonavala route until you spot a trail gradually climbing upwards on the left.
The trail is pretty straight forward with an entrance board set as well. You will see the map of the forts and information on Rajmachi on this information board.
Now your trail leads you to a concrete road. This will take you to the Bhairavnath Temple where the two forts will be accessible.
Trek Distance: 1.4 kilometers
Trek Duration: 45 minutes
GPS Coordinates of Udhewadi: 18°49’32.6″N 73°23’41.4″E
GPS Coordinates of Manaranjan Fort: 18°49’53.7″N 73°23’41.1″E
The trek to Manaranjan starts from behind the temple. It is a straightforward mud trail all the way to the top of the fort.
View from Manaranjan Fort. Picture by Deep Thakkar
Trek Distance: 1.6 kilometers
Trek Duration: 50 minutes
GPS Coordinates of Udhewadi: 18°49’32.6″N 73°23’41.4″E
GPS Coordinates of Shriwardhan Fort: 18°49’45.4″N 73°23’50.3″E
Trekking to the Shriwardhan is even simpler. You have the concrete steps leading most part of the trek. The last section has a mix of mud and rock-cut steps.
Mountains in monsoons look refreshing. Picture by Mandar B
You can view the Madan point in the front, followed by ranges of Dhak Bahiri (on the left of Madan point), Bhivpuri mountains known for many waterfalls. The view of the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is also something to witness from the top.
180 Degree view from the top of Shriwardhan Fort - Google Street View. Picture courtesy Deep Thakkar
In this fort, you can explore a water reservoir and another temple near the reservoir. You can explore around for about half an hour. There is also a small route that goes to a clearing which can be used as a camping space.
Hemadpanti style Shiva Temple located near the water reservoir. Picture by Deep Thakkar
Best Time to do the Rajmachi Trek
Rajmachi Trek can be done in multiple seasons. Like most treks, the benefits and charm change based on the month that you are trekking. Here are the details of what you will be seeing during these months of trekking.
The months of May, June is the best time to witness fireflies on the trek. These beetles with bio luminescence live for only two months. With them glowing bright during the evenings and nighttime, you will be taken back to a land of wonder.
Witness beautiful sight of waterfalls during Monsoon. Picture by Mandar B
If you are trekking during the monsoon season, you will get to see the charm of lush greenery and valleys filled with waterfalls.
Post monsoon and the winter season, the color changes on the trek completely. The color of autumn trees and clear views is something totally different to trek for.
Is Rajmachi Fort Trek Difficult
Rajmachi is an easy-moderate-level trek. There are no sections on the Rajmachi trek that can be classified as difficult as such. However, a trekker must know about these sections to keep an eye out while trekking.
This is the only one section on the trek which can be classified as something to be cautious of.
Stream Crossing after the Valvand Village: Stream crossing is after Valvand Village road fork on the Lonavala trail. In the peak of the monsoon season, the current of the stream could get strong and the water level could increase rapidly.
How To Reach Rajmachi Trek
Reaching Rajmachi by your own vehicle from Mumbai
Rajmachi is a trek that is well accessible using your own vehicle. The trek starts from Udhewadi. This is your base village or the start point which is about 100 km from Mumbai.
If you are planning to reach Rajmachi Trek using your own vehicle, use this link to help set up navigation in Google maps.
If you do not have access to Google maps, here is how to reach Mumbai: Head to Panvel from Mumbai. From Panvel take the Mumbai-Pune highway and continue on the highway until you reach Khandala.
From Khandala, you have about an hour’s drive which is about 15 km to reach the base village of Udhewadi.
Reaching Rajmachi trek by Public Transport System
The best way to reach the base is to take the Express Train from Mumbai to reach Lonavala Railway Station. Download the M-indicator app for railway express train timings.
For the Lonavala route – Travel to Lonavala by booking first class (booked travel) or general class (for Backpackers) tickets for the express trains depending upon the time you want to do it, night trek, or a Day trek.
For Karjat route – Reach Karjat by Local Train and then take a cab or a six seater Tumtum and reach Kondivade Village.
Nearest Railway Station
Lonavala Railway Station
Karjat Railway Station
Nearest International and Domestic Airport
Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai – 100 km
Pune International Airport, Pune – 90 km
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do I need any permission to do the Rajmachi Fort trek?
You don’t need any formal permission for the trek of Rajmachi.
However, at the start of the trek, a small fee (Rs 5 per person) will be collected by the local committee if you are trekking. This amount is used for the good of trekkers. This amount collected is used for signboards, cleaning the trail, information, and the upkeep of the place.
If you are traveling to the base by vehicle, then you need to pay a bit more. For a four-wheeler, Rs 100 needs to be paid. Rs 20 for a two-wheeler. If you are taking a bus, then the cost will be Rs. 150.
2. Are there any sources of food and water on the Rajmachi trek?
There is a place where you can experience traditional Maharashtrian food. However, you need to inform them about your arrival before a day. Here is the contact number: Sangam Ware/Nilesh Ware: +91 9922282388
It’s well known for the food they make, as you will get to including Poha in the Breakfast, Pithla Bhakri Thali (Pithla is a traditional Maharashtrian dish made using chickpea flour or besan).
Fun fact: Pithla Bhakri Thali is very popular in Maharashtra and consists of Pithla, Jowar or Bajra Bhakri, Gavar ki Sabji, thecha (red paste), onions, and pickles made from tamarind.
The other option is to carry your food from home and take in your dabba.
For water, the major source on the Lonavala Route is Tungarli Dam (all seasons), but in monsoons, lots of streams pass through, so you have water in abundance, but considering other seasons, you should carry at least 2 to 3 liters of water.
On the Karjat route, as per the monsoons, you could find streams, but in other seasons, you need to carry at least 2 liters of water.
3. Where can I stay on the Rajmachi Trek?
You have 2 options on the trek of Rajmachi.
The first option is to stay in the courtyard of the villager’s house. The villagers allow you to sleep outside their houses. The other option is to take a tent on your own or to rent a tent near the base of the trek.
Camping near the base village on the trek. Picture by Deep Thakkar
4. Do I get any network on the Rajmachi trek?
You will find BSNL and Vodafone 2G sometimes. Otherwise, the connectivity is not so good on the trek.
5. Where can I find ATMs on the Rajmachi Fort trek?
The nearest ATM is in Lonavala (for lonavala trail) and Karjat (for the trail starting from Karjat).
6. How long is the Rajmachi Fort trek?
The Rajmachi trek from Kondiwade Village is 13 km long and around 3.5 km long from Udhewadi side. Though it's a bit long trek, the climb is not that hard and a lot of places to explore on the top adds to the total distance.
7. How long does it take to climb Rajmachi Fort?
It takes around 7-8 hours to complete the Rajmachi Fort trek.
Hospital: Yash Hospital in Lonavala is 18 km away from the Base Camp Udhewadi.
Reach them on 098232 34159
Police station: Lonavala Gramin Police Station which is again 18 kms from Rajmachi fort base camp – Reach them on 02114 273 036
ERSS: For any kind of emergency help, you can contact the Pan-India Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) number- 112
Click here to go back to the Table of contents.
Nearby Places to Visit on the Rajmachi Trek
Dhak Bahiri is a cave in the Sahyadri hill range, situated near the village Jambhivli off village-Malavalli in the Pune district of India.
One needs to ascend a col, walk along a scarp and finally a vertical ascent of almost 70-degree gradient. A small mistake and you will find yourself somewhere deep in the valleys of Sahyadris.
2. Udaysagar Lake
You can visit a water reservoir named Udaysagar Lake (water reservoir) which was built 200 years ago. This lake is very close to Udhewadi Base village, just 1.5 km in fact and beneath the forest section.
Udaysagar Reservoir. Picture by Deep Thakkar
The campsite is located 11 km from Lonavala. Shirota Lake fills to the brim during the post-monsoon with an abundance of lush foliage. This lake is close to the Valvand Fork when starting from the Lonavala side.
The best time to camp is in the winters, which extend from November to March, with night-time temperatures ranging from 12-15 degrees.
The Monsoon goes down a bit & it makes us a way to an amazing place, Kataldhar Waterfall.
The name literally means waterfall from a rock cliff. This 350 feet waterfall tests your mental strength. Once you are done with this adventure activity, the amount of sheer joy is incomparable.
5. Kondhane Caves Waterfall Rappelling
Pro Tip – Plan your journey for 2 days as there are more places to cover at Rajmachi fort trek. This will give you enough time to go around.
You can also inform the homestay owners two days before you are resuming the trek. Also, it is better to trek on a weekday or at least on a Friday compared to the weekend to avoid the crowd trekking on the Rajmachi trek.
What to pack for the Rajmachi 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 Full Sleeve 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 documented by Deep Thakkar, Suhas Saya
Banner Image: Mandar B
Trek Images: Deep Thakkar, Mandar B
Author: Suhas Saya