Salher – Salota Fort Trek
Salher and Salota are the twin forts of the Selbari-Dolbari hill ranges located near the border of Maharashtra and Gujarat, in the Baglan region of Nashik district, approximately 280 kilometers from Mumbai.
Salher peak is the second highest peak in Maharashtra, only after Kalsubai. But, Salher Fort is the highest fort in Maharashtra, at 5,175 feet.
These are historic forts famously known for the Battle of Salher in the year 1672, between the Marathas and the Mughals. It is the first ever open-field battle the Marathas won against the Mughals.
The gigantic hills that house these forts atop are separated by a Col or a Saddle (the lowest point on a mountain ridge between two peaks) in the middle.
Salher and Salota forts are very close to each other. Climbing on the top of one hill gives you a bird’s eye view of the other.
The historical remnants can still be seen at both the forts. The pond at the top of Salher Fort and the temple at its highest point remind us of the glorious past the fort holds. There’s a Hanuman idol at the top of Salota fort as well.
Add to that a number of caves built in a single line on the way to Salher fort. Why were these caves built? Who used to stay in them? We can only imagine!
Although famous, the trek remains unknown to most of Maharashtra’s populace and that makes it a perfect offbeat trek to enjoy all by yourselves.
The vast space at the top of Salher makes for an ideal place to camp for the night and visit Salota the next day.
From the top, one can witness the vast landscape towards Maharashtra and Gujarat in a wide panoramic sweep.
We recommend this trek to fit beginners and intermediate trekkers as the major part of the trail is near vertical on both the days and requires you to wade through rock-cut steps during ascent and descent.
Table of Contents:
- What To Watch Out For
- Trail Information
- GPX File And Route Map Of The Trek
- Best Time To Do Salher – Salota Fort Trek
- How To Reach Salher – Salota Fort
- Difficult Sections On The Trek
- How To Get Fit For The Trek
- Things To Take On Salher – Salota Fort Trek
- Permission, Water Sources And Other Finer Details About The Trek
- Nearby Places To Visit After The Trek
➤ What To Watch Out For
Pyramid-like structure of the Salher hill
The naturally formed pyramid upon which the Salher fort is located is a marvel to see. The rock-cut steps add to the beauty and provide a thrilling experience.
This unique structure also provided a strategic advantage to the Maratha army during the Battle of Salher.
Bird’s eye view of Salota from the Salher summit
Salota Fort looks like an actual drone shot when standing at the top of Salher Fort. From here, you get a 360° view of the surrounding area. On a clear day, you will see the towns of Gujarat from here.
Parshuram Temple at the highest point of Salher Fort
The Parshuram temple is bang on the tip of Salher fort. At approximately 5,175 feet, it is one of the highest points where a temple is situated in Maharashtra.
Sunrise and Sunset from Salher Fort
Salher fort gives us a rare opportunity to witness beautiful sunrise and sunset from its highest point. Whether you are at Salher or Salota, you get amazing views of both sunrise and sunset.
But we recommend Salher fort, as it has an advantage of getting better views because of the height gain as compared to Salota.
➤ Trail Information
Salher-Salota Fort trek starts from a village in the Satana taluka called Waghambe. Alternatively, you may start the trek from another village called Salher Wadi to reach the Col. From the Col, it is the same trail whether you have started from Waghambe or Salher Wadi.
The distance is a bit longer from Salher Wadi till the Col, as compared to starting from Waghambe. Also, you will not find many vehicles going towards Salher Wadi, whereas there are a number of buses you can catch from Taharabad to Waghambe.
Since we are covering two forts on this trek, we divide the trek into two sections spread over two days.
| Section I – Day 1: Waghambe or Salher Wadi Village to Salher Fort
| Section II – Day 2: Salher Fort to Salota Fort
Section I: Waghambe Village to Col to Salher Fort
Trek Distance: 5.2 Kilometres
Trek Duration: 3 Hours and 30 Minutes
GPS Coordinates of Waghambe Village: 20°44’31.87″N 73°57’46.81″E
GPS Coordinates of Salher Fort: 20°43’20.83″N 73°56’45.68″E
Alternate Route — Section I: Salher Wadi Village to Col
Trek Distance: 3.3 Kilometres
Trek Duration: 1 Hour and 30 Minutes
GPS Coordinates of Salher Wadi Village: 20°42’46.10″N 73°55’53.59″E
GPS Coordinates of Col: 20°43’21.20″N 73°57’3.24″E
From Waghambe, move south on your left where you see two hills with a col in the center. The trail is predominantly dirt until you reach the col.
You will cover a distance of 2.8 kilometres on this dirt trail and gain an altitude of approximately 1,370 feet, which is quite high for a dirt trail walk.
The ascent is gradual and not very steep until the last push to the col.
As you make your way forward, you will see both the forts at a grander scale, with Salota fort on your left and Salher fort to your right.
Closer to the col you will realize that you have been walking on a ridge that gives you sweeping views on your left and right. On a clear day, the ridge walk gives you a glimpse of what is awaiting you at the summit!
You cannot rest for a long time anywhere on the trail. The sun shines high and there is no shade. If you are tired, do not stop except for short breaks in the open. Once you are on the climb to the fort, there are a few places that give you respite from the harsh sun. Use these places to rest and recover for the journey ahead.
| Tip: Keep sipping water every 10 minutes to keep yourselves hydrated even if you are not thirsty. This will help avoid cramping if you are prone to it.
Protip Plan your travel in such a way that you are at Waghambe village by 2 PM. That way you can reach the Salher Fort summit in time for a beautiful sunset and camp at the top. The temperature will be cooler by the time you set up your tents.
The col acts as a wind tunnel where the wind compresses between the two hills and blows in full force.
From the col turn right and make your way up through short steep ascents and rocky terrain over gradual ascent. The trail till the rock-cut steps is not clear and there are chances that you might lose track.
| Tip: We recommend using our GPX File to ensure you follow the proper trail.
You will find a very few spots where there is shade after the col. So, when you see shade, make sure you use it to rest!
In about 500 metres after winding through the trail and finding your way, you will reach the first Darwaza or a Doorway. This is a point that tells you are on the right track.
After the doorway, you will find the rock-cut steps climbing vertically for at close to a 100 metres, on your left. Climb the stairs carefully as they are very steep, especially in the monsoons when the rocks are slippery.
The climb through these ancient rock-cut steps is a thrilling experience. You often wonder how these steps were carved in the olden days.
If you dare to look back from the stairs, you will get to see this head spinning view of the Salota fort at a distance and the steep rocks and valley below. This makes your hearts beat faster!
At the top of the stairs, there is a second Darwaza. This marks the end of rock-cut steps.
After the stairs, it is a relatively flat walk with occasional gentle ascents to the top of the fort. A grand view of Salota fort awaits at this point.
Continue straight towards the fort. You will notice many caves in a line on the left. These caves were mostly used as a hideout by the soldiers of the Maratha empire.
Be very cautious while traversing through this section as your right is completely exposed. Stick to your left until you reach the top.
In about 200 metres you climb another small set of rock-cut steps and reach the third Darwaza.
This is another section you need to exercise caution about. The view of the exposed section gives chills to even the experienced trekkers!
Reaching the fourth Darwaza marks the end of the climb and you are in a vast open table top (flat) land.
On your left, you see the climb to Parshuram temple which is the summit and in front of you, almost 300 metres away there is the man-made Gangasagar lake, next to it is the Renuka Devi temple, and on your right is the sweeping views of the surrounding peaks and landscapes.
Once you reach the pond, proceed to your left where there are bigger caves than the ones you saw earlier.
The caves are usually occupied by villagers who make it their home. They graze their cattle and return back to their villages during monsoon season.
These caves were mostly used as soldiers’ and ministers’ quarters during the Maratha rule.
Do not forget to explore these to get a taste of the 16th Century architecture and go back in time!
Camping in one of these caves is recommended to keep yourself safe from the elements. It also provides a wonderful opportunity to interact with the villagers, hear their stories and get to know of their cultures.
If you prefer to set up tents on the open ground, you may do so as well. Do not hesitate to explore the vast area which you have it all by yourself. An offbeat trek cannot get better than this!
| Tip: We recommend carrying a minimum of 3 litres water. There are no water sources until you reach the top of Salher fort. With the hot sun and humidity, even 3 litres feel less.
At the top of Salher fort, there are a couple of potable water cisterns that are marked in the GPX file below. These are your only source of water on the entire trek. Make sure you download the file before starting the trek.
Once the tent is pitched, make your way up to Parshuram temple to witness one of the most beautiful sunsets.
| Tip: It is recommended to carry your own food that lasts for the night on the first day and the next morning and afternoon. There are no homes, restaurants or other food sources until you reach Waghambe village on the second day.
The trail starts on the top of the caves. It is faintly marked and even if you don’t follow the trail, it will lead to Parshuram temple. There is no worry of getting lost here.
From here, the final push to the temple begins. It is a steep ascent for approximately 100 metres.
From the top, you get a bird’s eye view of Salota fort and a 360° panoramic view of the surrounding. Some of the peak we see include Mulher, Mora, Hargad, Navhigad, Mangi Tungi and Pimpla Fort
Salota fort appears as if you are getting a drone shot from Salher fort. It is a stunning sight!
Take in the view while waiting for the sun to set on the west. It is one of the best sunsets you will see.
Take the same trail back till the caves to retire for the night.
| Tip: Your headlamp will come in handy at this point. Ensure you carry it when you trek to Parshuram temple.
The next morning, we recommend you wake up early and just climb the trail over the caves to witness the beautiful sunrise on the east.
Very rarely do you get to see both sunrise and sunset on a single trek. Salher – Salota fort trek offers you this wonderful opportunity! Make sure you don’t miss it.
Section II: Salher Fort to Salota Fort
Trek Distance: 3 Kilometres
Trek Duration: 2 Hours
GPS Coordinates of Salher Fort: 20°43’20.83″N 73°56’45.68″E
GPS Coordinates of Salota Fort: 20°43’21.33″N 73°57’11.35″E
Start the next day by taking the same trail back to the col. The major challenges you will face while descending are the rock-cut steps and you will have wide, open valley views down below.
| Tip: Refill your water bottles from the potable water cisterns on Salher fort as there are no other water points until you descend to Waghambe village.
Place your foot firmly and descend slowly in these sections. Do not panic.
Once you reach the col, move towards Salota fort by taking the trail on your right.
Keep on the trail and climb through the gradual to steep ascent until you reach the rock-cut steps in about 600 metres.
After climbing the near vertical stairs for about 100 metres, you will reach the first Darwaza of Salota fort.
The other side of the door appears to be shut by fallen rocks. But there is enough space to make your way through those rocks to the other side.
Once you cross the Darwaza, you enter an exposed area. On your left is the valley and on your right is the mountain.
In about 50 metres you will face another challenge — the rockfall area. Do not stop at this section and do not look above. Pass through this section carefully and quickly. The danger of falling rocks and the totally exposed section on your left is a dangerous combination.
In about 100 metres you will come across the second Darwaza. This is the last doorway on Salota Fort.
Even on Salota, you will find similar cave structures as Salher fort. Watch out for them as you make your way to the top.
If you look back, you can actually see how strategically the second Darwaza is placed, so that anyone passing by the doorway is easily noticed and the soldiers are alerted.
After a 100 metres you reach the top of Salota fort where there is an idol of Lord Hanuman, which is painted in bright orange.
Idols, especially those of Lord Hanuman being painted in orange is a common sight across Maharashtra. The idols and temples have bright orange flags too.
The view point, which is also the summit, is less than 5 minutes away from here.
From the summit, you will finally see Salher fort in full glory! You realize what a mammoth hill you have climbed the previous day. Spend the next few minutes in awe and admiration.
Spend your time generously at the summit, while making sure that you have your sun hats on and your hands and neck are covered from the harsh sunlight.
On your way back, we suggest you rest and have snacks and a few sips of water near the caves, away from the rockfall area. You have a long journey ahead.. You will need at least 3 and a half hours to reach Waghambe village.
Protip Ensure you reach Waghambe by 2 PM and have food at one of the local’s homes. The best way to book your food slot is to inform at one of the village homes the previous day before starting your trek and give them your estimated time of arrival. This way, lunch will be ready by the time you reach the village and you can board a bus soon.
➤ GPX File Of The Trek
Click here to download the KML file of Salher – Salota Fort trek.
➤ Best Time To Do Salher – Salota Fort Trek
The best time to do Salher – Salota Fort trek is from October to February. Because of the barren nature of the land around this part of Maharashtra, it is best to do the trek after monsoons and before summers.
This will ensure you are not exposed to extreme weather during monsoons and summers, by keeping you cooler in the day time and save you from harsh rains while you camp at night.
Although you may do the trek in monsoon season, the continuous rains and little to no forest cover will spoil your trek experience. Also, the rock-cut steps pose a major challenge during monsoons.
➤ How To Reach Salher – Salota Fort Trek
Salher – Salota Fort trek is at the Maharashtra-Gujarat border which is 280 kilometres from Mumbai, and 110 kilometres from Nashik. Waghambe village or alternatively Salher Wadi village is the starting point of the trek.
| Note: There are very limited buses to Salher Wadi village and reaching there using public transport is not a feasible option. So, unless you are reaching the base in your own vehicle, avoid starting the trek from Salher Wadi village.
Reaching the base village in your own vehicle from Mumbai
Both the starting points are easily accessible by road and almost the same distance from Mumbai. Use the links below to set up navigation on Google Maps:
• To reach Waghambe village: Click this link
• To reach Salher Wadi village: Click this link
Reaching the base village using public transport from Mumbai
Reaching Waghambe from Mumbai involves a combination of trains and buses.
Take the first Mumbai Local train from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to Kasara which is at 04:05 AM. The train reaches Kasara at 06:52 AM.
Protip Use the M-Indicator mobile application to see Mumbai Local train timings and ticket prices.
From Kasara there are multiple buses that go to Nashik. Alternatively, you can take shared taxis to Nashik. The journey takes approximately 1 and a half hours.
Both the state transport buses and shared taxis cost approximately Rs.70 – Rs.80 from Kasara to Nashik.
There are two Bus Stations in Nashik — Old CBS and New CBS — You will get the bus to Taharabad or Satana from Old CBS. From Nashik, take a bus to Taharabad. The journey takes almost 3 hours and the ticket costs approximately Rs.150.
If you miss the direct bus to Taharabad, as an alternative you can take a bus to Satana and take another bus to reach Taharabad.
➤ Difficult Sections On The Trek
There are no sections that are difficult to traverse on the Salher – Salota Fort trek, except the rock-cut steps on both the days. Since the entire trail is quite steep most of the time, a trekker must always anticipate and prepare for every eventuality.
Here are a few sections you must keep an eye out for while ascending and descending:
• Slippery trail: The trail becomes more tricky during monsoon and post-monsoon months as the mud and loose gravel become very slippery and great caution must be taken while traversing. Trekkers must be very careful with their choice of footwear and should check weather charts so as to avoid days with anticipated heavy rains.
• Rock-cut steps: The steps carved on the rock pose safety risk on this trek. The near-vertical steps on both Salher and Salota forts must be traversed with care and take the support of rocks on the sides wherever possible. The risk increases manifold during monsoon and post-monsoon when these rocks are slippery with probable moss formation.
• Exposed and rockfall section on the way to Salota summit: The section between first and second Darwazas is prone to rockfall and one side is totally exposed to almost a 1,000-foot drop. Be extremely careful at this section, and cross it quickly.
➤ How To Get Fit For Salher – Salota Fort Trek
The Salher – Salota Fort trek is classified as an Moderate grade trek. From the base, you will gain approximately 2,500 feet in altitude till the summit on the first day and then lose and gain another 700 feet on the second day.
Although the altitude gain is not very high for a 2-day trek, the rolling ascents and descents over 12 kilometres can be demanding for people who lead a sedentary lifestyle.
Training yourself for a medium-altitude easy-moderate grade trek
Here’s a guide to help you get fit for the trek in 4 weeks:
➤ Cardiovascular Endurance
In case you’re just starting with a fitness routine, start slow and increase your pace everyday in the following manner –
- Target completing a jog of 5 km in 40 minutes when you begin.
- Gradually increase your pace by running 5 km, 4 times a week.
- As you become more comfortable, introduce another day of running in your routine.
- Progressively increase the distance you run in a workout until you can complete 5 km in 40 mins.
If you prefer cycling over running, target covering 18 km in 60 minutes when you begin.
- Progressively increase your pace to cover 25 km in one hour.
➤ Strength Training
This is an important area you need to work on.
Strength training is equally important to trek comfortably. Work on your glutes, calves and knees. Additionally, work on strengthening your core.
You must strengthen your core muscles. For strengthening your core muscles, holding a plank and it’s variations (elbow, side planks) are the best exercises to go about doing it.
Also, try these exercises for strength:
Target 4 sets of squats with 20 in each set.
– Squats (Mix it up with sumo squats)
– Lunges (Forward, backward and lateral lunges)
Flexibility determines the amount of movement your bones can make in any direction around joints such as shoulders, elbows, hips and knees.
It is an aspect that will help you trek comfortably. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain. Stretching your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors and lower back muscles regularly, promotes relaxation in the tissues reducing the strain on your back.
If you can’t go out and jog because of time and space constraints, here’s a video you can use to work out indoors.
➤ Things To Take On The 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.
- A warm layer (Pull over, sweater or a jacket)
- Poncho, only during post-monsoons
- Plastic sheet to wrap electronic devices, only during monsoons
- Sunscreen (SPF 50+)
- Tent (3-Person or 2-Person – Depending on the number of people sharing)
- Sleeping Bag
*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)
➤ Frequently Asked Questions
❖ Can I do this trek if I have never been on a trek before?
Yes. A person who follows an active lifestyle, can consider Salher – Salota Fort as their first time trek.
For people who lead a relatively sedentary lifestyle, we recommend a bit of preparation before attempting to trek.
❖ Do I need to obtain permission for trekking to Salher – Salota Fort?
No. Trekking in Maharashtra is a boon for all the trekkers when it comes to trek permission.
Most treks in Maharashtra do not need permission to trek or camp at the summit or anywhere on the trail.
❖ Where can I get food and water during the trek?
There are no restaurants at the base of the trek. There are a few local villagers’ homes. Except these there are no other sources of food on the trail.
Tip: When you get down at Waghambe before you start your trek, have lunch at one of the local’s homes and inform them about arrival the next day. That way your food will be ready by the time you finish your trek.
It is advised to pack your food from Mumbai which is not perishable. Something like Bread and Jam / Peanut Butter, Roti etc., will not go bad so easily.
Note: Remember to get sufficient food for dinner on Day 1, and Breakfast on Day 2.
With regards to water sources, there are none on the trek, except the potable water cisterns on top of Salher fort.
We recommend filling your water bottles at Waghambe before starting the trek. Remember to carry a minimum of 3 litres of water. On the second day, refill your water bottles at the potable water cisterns before heading to Salota fort.
❖ Whom do I contact in case of an emergency?
• Hospital: The closest hospital is Primary Health Centre in Salher Wadi village, which is 6.5 kilometres away from the base if you are trekking from Waghambe. Otherwise, the hospital is right at the base village if you are trekking from Salher Wadi.
• Police Station: The police station closest to Salher – Salota Fort trek is the Satana Police Station. (Contact: +912555223033).
• Mountain Rescue: Giripremi has started a Pan-Maharashtra rescue group called Maharashtra Mountaineers Rescue Coordination Centre (MMRCC). You can contact them on 7620230231 for help in the Sahyadris.
• ERSS: For any kind of emergency help, you can contact the Pan-India Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) number- 112.
❖ What about mobile network and connectivity on Salher – Salota Fort?
Mobile Network You will get mobile network for almost all major operators like Airtel, Vodafone, Jio etc., only at Waghambe. You will get network only in pockets and is very weak on the trail. Once at the summit, you will get good network coverage. Nearest ATM Taharabad or Satana are where you will get a few ATMs, which are roughly 23 kilometres and 45 kilometres away from the base of the trek. So, make a quick stop at either of these places and withdraw cash so that you don’t run out.
❖ Do I need a guide to trek Salher – Salota Fort?
Although the trail is not very clear initially from the col, the trail can be traced easily for both Salher and Salota forts in case you go off course.
We do not recommend a guide on this trek.
❖ Can I camp anywhere on the trail?
Yes. Although you can pitch your tents anywhere on the trail, it is advised to camp at the top of Salher fort. Especially because of the availability of drinking water and spectacular views of sunrise and sunset.
❖ Where can I park my vehicle?
Vehicles can reach till the base of the trek with ease. The base village is well connected by road.
➤ Nearby Places To Visit After Salher – Salota Fort Trek
Salher – Salota Fort trek lies in the Selbari – Dolbari range of the Sahyadris. The range offers many other trekking options near Salher Wadi and Waghambe. Here are the places to visit after your trek. Remember, these other treks require a day or two days to visit and explore. So, plan to visit these places only if you have a few more days to spare after the trek.
• Mulher, Mora and Hargad Trek – Mulher, Mora and Hargad are the prominent forts in the Dolbari hill range of the Sahyadri region in Nashik district. This makes for a 2-3 days trek in itself.
• Mangi Tungi Hills – Mangi Tungi is a prominent twin-pinnacle peak with a plateau in between. It is located in Taharabad which is 125 kilometres from Nashik. This hill is considered sacred to Jains and a number of pilgrims flock to the hill to offer prayers.
Trek Documented By: Nitesh Kumar
Pictures Contributed By: Nitesh Kumar
Author: Gautam Singh