This trek takes you the Sarasgad fort. This fort was given a new look during the Maratha king Shivaji’s rule. The fort is locally well known as Pagadicha killa. The word Pagadi in Marathi means turban. The hilltops and the two cliffs look like a typical turban used in Maharashtra, hence the name.
- Altitude: 1,608 ft
- Time taken: 2 to 2.5 hours to ascend
- Trek gradient: Moderate-difficult. Steep trail on most parts. Few stretches of flat walks.
- Terrain type: Forest, plateau, pastures and rocky patches
- Water sources: None. Carry at least 2 litres of water per person
The Sarasgad trek begins from Balleshwar Pali temple in Pali village. Parking is available around 500 metres form the temple.
Once you leave the road for vehicles, follow the cemented road. This is a narrow (6 feet) road meant only for walking not for vehicles. Continue till you see a muddy trail on the right through which you can enter the forest of tall bushes (5 feet).
Follow the trail through the forest. This trail is moderate to very steep. Follow the trail till you reach the open grassland region. It will take you around half an hour to reach here from the start of the trek.
The trees along the trail limit the view most of the time, but you get a glimpse of the base village at corners and turnings on the trail. Most of this section is grassland, and there are almost no trees. The last 5 minutes are bare of grass as well. Here, the climb becomes quite a thrill as you climb from one boulder to another. It requires some patience as you need to look for crevices in the boulders to get a foothold. Some basic rock climbing skills will here.
This trail eventually leads you to the base of the peak. It should take you around 20 minutes to get here from the grassland. At this point, the two peaks, Sarasgad and Sudhagad, form a V-shaped intersection. Sarasgad is visible at all times from this part of the trail, ahead of you. You can also see neighbouring hills.
After the adventurous rock climbing patch comes a flight of roughly 90 uneven, tall steps (each about a foot hight), cut into the rock. These are located between the two peaks and take you to the main entrance of the fort. A small waterfall runs alongside these steps. It will take around half an hour to reach the main entrance from the V-shaped junction.
Once you reach the fort entrance, a few more steps take you to a platform. Here, take the trail to the right (another 8-10 steps). This is followed by a muddy trail with a few trees on each side. The trail to the left takes you a relatively dense looking forest with tall bushes.
You will finally reach a small sitting area with a tank named Pindi Haud (see images).
From the tank take the trail to the right, which will take you almost 300 degrees around the fort, maintaining your altitude, through various structures of the fort (dhaanya kothar, i.e., grain storage, wada, i.e., rooms, etc.). The trail to the left is best avoided as it has many difficult and risky patches (this is the remaining part to complete a full circle for to reach the same place as by the trail to the right).
After almost completing the circle around the fort, you will see a sign board to your left reading ‘Mandira kade’. Follow the muddy trail along short bushes and shadowed by tall trees. This part of the trail is quite steep (takes about 10 mins).
Once out of the tree cover, take the trail to the left. This part of the trail is again a steep climb on rocky structures but has narrow steps (enough to place only one leg). There is an alternate trail on the right side of the same rock. This route will require rock climbing skills. It is easier to descend by this trail. The trail is marked with similar footprints as on the trail to the left.
Once you reach the top and see tall grass, walk to the right (there is wild, untamed grass on the left and straight ahead through which walking is almost not possible). You will pass an old dargah almost immediately. Take a right a few steps here and you will see the temple surrounded by the water tank (takes about 15 mins). The total time take from Pindi Haud to this temple will be around 40 minutes.
Spend some time here and return to Pali on the same trail.
This trek has been researched and documented by Mugdha Bhusari.
How to reach Pali
By road (own vehicle):
On the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, take the exit for Khopoli (Imagica exit). Drive beyond Imagica for 40 km till you reach Pali village. Drive to Ballaleshwar Pali temple. The parking is 500 m from the temple.
Once you reach Pali village, locals can be asked for directions to the temple. It is a very well-known temple. Alternately, GPS directions can be followed to the temple. There aren’t directions to the temple but temple is at a height and at all junctions (encountered only 2) the road with an upward gradient needs to be followed.
By road (bus):
State buses from Mumbai towards Kolad or Kudali.
These buses pass through Pali. It is advisable to confirm with the conductor/driver if the bus halts at Pali
Take the CST – Khopoli train on the Central line. Get off at Khopoli. Take a rickshaw to Pali village – Rs. 50-100 per person.
Take the Passenger train Bound to Mumbai and get off at Khopoli. Take a rickshaw to Pali village.