The Complete Guide to Ghangad Fort Trek
Ghangad Fort Trek is a short trail in the Sahyadris and is situated 35 km from the famous hill station, Lonavala in Maharashtra. It is a perfect day or weekend trek for those living in Mumbai, Pune or Nagpur.
The trail takes you to Ghangad Fort, which sits on top of a hill shaped like a trapezoid. Its unique shape and structure make it stand out, and it's tough not to notice it and be awed by its imposing size.
In fact, the word 'ghana' refers to anything cube-like or solid in Marathi. 'Gad' translates to the fort.
It is only recently that the Ghangad Fort Trek has become popular. It was considered a challenging trail for the longest time because of the rock section that required technical rock climbing skills. However, installing a steel ladder in this rock patch has made the trek accessible to a broader population of outdoor lovers.
Ghangad is a short but an 'all in one package' trek. It has a forest section, a surprise at the boulder section, an adventurous climb up a steep metal ladder and a stunning 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains from the top. It is suitable for both fit beginners and experienced trekkers.
History of the Trek
While the fort is 300 years old, very little is known about its history.
One interesting fact about this fort is that it was used to hold prisoners. It was also used as a watchtower to observe the movement of people on the trade route from Konkan to Pune.
Table of Contents
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Highlights of the Ghangad Fort Trek
1. View of Tail Baila Walls
Tail Baila are two massive 200 to 250 feet walls. Taila Baila is very famous among seasoned climbers for rock climbing and rappelling. As soon as you cross Salther Khind(Pass), you get spectacular views of Tail Baila walls on your right side. You can also view these walls from the summit.
View of Taila Baila walls from the summit. Picture by Swarada Ghangurde
2. Triangular boulder forming a cave below
This is one of the best highlights of the Ghangad Fort Trek. You can see a giant boulder almost 35-40 feet tall, resting on one side of the fort from the base itself, and it stirs your curiosity.
The boulder section on the plateau area. Picture by Swarada Ghangurde
When you finally reach the point, you'll be stunned to see a nice shelter formed by this gigantic boulder. It is likely that the boulder dislodged from the fort above and slid down. You will find the base is now resting on the plateau area with its apex tilted against the fortress. This has formed a cave-like shelter open on two sides.
3. Trekking in the dense forest
A part of this trek is through a patch of dense evergreen forest. This forest section is a big relief for trekkers, especially if you are trekking in the summer season.
Part of the Ghangad Fort Trek takes you through a dense forest - a wonderful experience. Picture by Swarada Ghangurde
Protip: You can combine this trek with Korigad Trek. Korigad is on the way to Ekole village, which is the base village of Ghangad trek. Have breakfast in Lonavala. You'll take 1.5hrs to reach the base of Ghangad. If you start your trek to Ghangad at 9 am, you can return to the base by 11-11:30 am. You'll take 45 mins to reach the base village of Korigad fort. Start your trek to Korigad and have your lunch at the fort itself. Come back to the base before dusk.
Trail Map of Ghangad Trek. Screenshot on Google Earth Pro
GPX File of the Ghangad Fort Trek
The Ghangad Fort Trek can be divided into five sections.
1. A gradual ascent from Ekole village (base of Ghangad) to the first clearing
2. Trek from the first clearing to the temple through a dense forest section
3. Climb from the temple to the plateau area
4. Steep ascent from the plateau area to the second bastion of the fort using a steel ladder
5. The final stretch to the summit
Section 1: Ekole Village to the First Clearing
Trek Distance: 1.6 km
Trek Duration: 15 to 20 minutes
GPS coordinates of Ekole village: 18°32'56.94"N 73°21'51.09"E
GPS coordinates of the clearing: 18°32'48.28"N 73°21'43.49"E
Start your trek from Ekole village. If you have travelled in your private vehicle, you can park your car in the village. Ask the locals for a suitable place to park your vehicle.
Protip: Marathi is the local language spoken here. To ask them if you can park your vehicle at a particular spot, you can say, "Ram ram dada, ithe gadi lavu ka?" Ram ram is used to greet someone. "Dada" means big brother. If you talk to a woman, you can say "Taai", which means big sister.
Face towards the fort and start walking. You'll easily be able to find the well-laid trail for Ghangad. If you are unsure, ask any of the villagers, and they'll help you out. You can say, “Dada/ taai, gadavar kasa jaycha?”.
The initial climb is gentle. Do note that there is no tree cover in this initial section.
The first section of the Ghangad Fort Trek. You can see the solid top of the fort. Picture by Amit Ghangurde
In about the first five minutes of your trek, you'll reach a fork that splits into three trails. Take the middle trail. You'll also see a steel wire compound fence on your left-hand side while you walk on this trail. Both the right and left trails will take you away from the fort, and they lead to a few farmlands and houses.
You'll reach the first clearing in about 15 to 20 minutes from the start of your trek, and it is a small clearing. After this, you'll be entering the forest section, and you won't get a view of Ghangad Fort.
You can have a water break here. The following section has got a comparatively steeper ascent.
Section 2: First Clearing to the Garjai Goddess Temple
Trek Distance: 90 m
Trek Duration: 10 minutes
GPS coordinates of the First Clearing: 18°32'48.28"N 73°21'43.49"E
GPS coordinates of Garjai Goddess Temple: 18°32'44.41"N 73°21'38.38"E
Continue trekking on the same trail from the first clearing. You'll enter a dense forest section and walk through a narrow path surrounded by beautiful tall trees.
The trek now takes a steeper ascent to the goddess temple. This is a smaller section compared to the previous one.
| Tip: This is a beautiful section of the trek to have a silent walk. You'll be able to listen to multiple birds chirping. Smell the earthy fragrance of the forest.
This part of the trail goes through a thick forest section. Picture by Swarada Ghangurde
There is only one trail. Follow this well-laid trail. Continue on this trail till you reach the goddess temple. It will take around 10-15 minutes to get to the temple from the first clearing.
The temple is in a small clearing. It is very easily noticeable with its concrete construction. You will find it on your right-hand side. This is the Garjai goddess temple. You'll even find a whiteboard informing you about the history and map of the fort. The Shivaji Trail organisation, a social service group that has taken up several forts for restoration purposes, has put up this board. They have restored Ghangad with the help of the local villagers.
You can rest here for a while, sipping some water before heading to the next section.
The Garjai Goddess Temple with a white information board on the left side. - Picture by Swarada Ghangurde
Information board near the temple. Picture by Swarada Ghangurde
Section 3: Garjai Goddess Temple to the Plateau Area
Trek Distance: 143 m
Trek Duration: 10 minutes
GPS coordinates for Garjai Goddess Temple: 18°32'44.41"N 73°21'38.38"E
GPS coordinates for Plateau Area: 18°32'45.95"N 73°21'35.87"E
The slope on this section is as steep as the previous section.
The trail from the Garjai Goddess temple to the plateau area is partly through dense forest and partly open.
You'll come out of the forest section in about five minutes after you start trekking from the temple. As you cross the forest section, you'll get beautiful views of mountains on your right-hand side. On your left-hand side, you'll have spectacular views of the valley. As you look up towards the fort, you get a closer look at the boulder you saw from the base.
You'll now find two narrow trails. The left one will take you to the valley viewpoint. This viewpoint is a saddle formed between Ghangad and its adjacent mountains.
| Tip: We suggest you visit this viewpoint while coming back down from the fort. This is just so that you can spend sufficient time at the summit and the boulder area and adjust your time accordingly on the way back.
Stunning panoramas from the valley viewpoint. Visit this point on the way down from your trek. Picture by Amit Ghangurde
Take the trail on your right. This trail is narrow, with small shrubs around you. You'll have the fort on your left side and Ekole village down on your right side. A little further, you'll find stone steps that lead through the first bastion of the fort and take you to the plateau on top. Get ready for the surprise reveal of the cave-like shelter formed below the boulder!
Photo taken from the boulder section facing towards the metal ladder. The caves in the rock are on the right side. Picture by Swarada Ghangurde
You'll find the main trail going to your left side towards the metal ladder on reaching the plateau area. Leave the main trail (for now) and go right. As you walk towards the boulder, you'll find caves in the rock on your left side currently barricaded with a metal gate.
The boulder section is something that you should not miss.
The boulder in the plateau area. You can also see the first bastion on the right side. Picture taken from top of the metal ladder. Picture by Amit Ghangurde
You'll be astonished to see how huge the boulder is. It is almost 40 feet. The boulder rests on the side of the fort, and it forms a cave-like shelter below it. It provides a good shade in the summer season. You can spend a good amount of time here before you move ahead.
Test your strength! It's time for a boulder push! Picture by Amit Ghangurde
Tip: This is a perfect spot to sit down and have your packed lunch. Depending on what time you start from the base, you can decide how much time to spend at this point.
You will also get terrific views of Taila baila walls from this point.
It is truly refreshing to experience the wind blowing through the boulder straight in your face.
Next to the boulder is a flat ground that is good for camping if you spend the night atop the fort.
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Section 4: Plateau Area to the Second Bastion
Trek Distance: 477 m
Trek Duration: 10 minutes
GPS coordinates for the Plateau Area: 18°32'45.95"N 73°21'35.87"E
GPS coordinates for the peak of Second Bastion: 18°32'45.67"N 73°21'35.51"E
After relaxing at the boulder point, come back to the main trail. The section from this plateau area to the second bastion of the fort is the trickiest part of the entire trek.
You'll have to climb a metal ladder (there is no other trail to reach the summit). Be very careful while climbing the ladder. You'll see a water cistern right at the top of the ladder. Take a sidestep to the left and use the metal wire fixed on the rocks to support yourself.
Climb up the metal ladder one at a time. There is a water cistern at the top of the ladder. You need to take a sidestep to the left. Picture by Amit Ghangurde
Continue further on the trail. This trail is very steep, and you'll have to take big strides over uneven rocks. Metal wires are fixed in certain portions of the path for your safety.
The steep rock patch after climbing the ladder. Picture by Amit Ghangurde
This trail will take you to the stone steps, which will eventually take you to the second bastion of the fort.
Entrance of the second bastion. Picture by Swarada Ghangurde
On reaching the top of the bastion, you'll find a continuous stone wall. Some parts of this wall have collapsed over the years. You can have good views of the trail which you just climbed. You can also try locating your vehicle which you parked in the village.
It'll take around 10-15 minutes to reach the second bastion from the boulder section.
Tip: Only one person should climb the ladder at a time. Don't try to take photos when you are climbing the ladder.
Section 5: The Second Bastion to the Summit of Ghangad Fort
Trek Distance: 390 m
Trek Duration: 15 minutes
GPS coordinates for the peak of Second Bastion 18°32'45.67"N 73°21'35.51"E
GPS coordinates for the Summit of Ghangad Fort: 18°32'46.23"N 73°21'34.58"E
This is the final stretch to reach the summit.
This section, too, has a steep ascent. Continue your climb on the same narrow trail. You'll reach the summit in about 10-15 minutes from the second bastion.
When you reach the summit, you'll be mesmerised by the 360-degree view of the Sahyadri mountain range. You'll have amazing views of Sudhagad fort and the unique formation of Tail Baila walls. You can also see the backwaters of Mulshi dam.
View of the backwaters of the Mulshi Dam from the summit. Picture by Swarada Ghangurde
Expansive views of the Sahyadris greet you at the summit. Picture by Swarada Ghangurde.
Earthy browns dominate the landscape. Picture by Swarada Ghangurde
The entire uphill stretch takes around 1-1.5 hours to complete.
Spend some time at the summit. Do note that there are no trees or any shelter on the top.
To go down to the basecamp, follow the same trail. It will take you close to 30-40 minutes to descend to Ekole village, excluding your time at the valley viewpoint.
On your way down, don't miss the Valley viewpoint. The trail for this viewpoint is easy to find. After descending through the first bastion, you'll find a path to the valley viewpoint on your right just before entering the forest section.
Take this trail. The valley viewpoint is like a saddle formed by Ghangad and the mountain. Stand at this point for stunning views of the valley in front of you.
Flower spotting on the Ghangad Fort Trek. Picture by Swarada Ghangurde
Best Season to do the Ghangad Fort Trek
You can do the Ghangad Fort Trek year-round. However, the best months to trek are from November to January. Post-monsoon and winter seasons are the best times to do the Ghangad Trek.
Post monsoon, you will witness the lush greenery of the region of Sahyadri in its full glory. You can extend the trek until the pre-summer season when most parts of the trail have a mix of brown and green.
Note that it gets very hot during the peak summer season(March to May). There is no shade on the fort after crossing the forest section except the cave formed because of the fallen boulder. The forest section becomes sparse in summers.
Avoid doing this trek in the monsoon season since this region receives heavy rainfall. The ladder and stone steps become very slippery, and the difficulty level goes up by a notch or two.
If you still want to take this up as a monsoon trek, be ready with all the right gears. The difficulty of the hike also increases if you go during the peak of the monsoon season.
Difficult Sections on the Ghangad Trek
The Ghangad trek is of easy to moderate difficulty.
There is only one difficult section. The steel ladder section and the rocky trail following that immediately is a little tricky.
Also, note down a few things to keep in mind while trekking.
1. Be very careful while climbing the ladder. This ladder can get very slippery, especially during the monsoon season. If at any point in time you feel that it is not safe to use this ladder, then please don't hesitate to turn back. The summit does offer fantastic views, but your safety is above all these beautiful views.
If the path is too slippery, you could visit the cave formed by the boulder, spend some time there and head back down.
2. During the monsoon season, trekking in the forest section can be slippery. Make sure you wear proper trekking shoes and use a trekking pole.
3. The trail from the plateau section to the second bastion to the fort also becomes slippery during monsoons. Since this section is quite steep and has stone stairs, be careful.
We recommend you take trekking Poles on the trek along with GPS.
How to Reach the Ghangad Fort Trek
The Ghangad trek starts from a small village called Ekole, about 35 km from Lonavala.
Reaching Ghangad by your vehicle.
If you plan to reach Ekole using your vehicle from Pune, you can use this link to help set up navigation in google maps.
For a more detailed explanation, read through the information below.
- This fort is near Lonavala, the famous hill station near Mumbai and Pune. Take the Old Mumbai-Pune highway. In Lonavala, exit the Mumbai Pune highway towards INS Shivaji.
| Tip: Just before exiting Mumbai - Pune highway, you'll find Rama Krishna Pure Veg Restaurant on your left side (if you are travelling from Pune). They serve good South Indian food, and you can have breakfast here. They also have their own parking space.
- After exiting the highway, keep following the road. You'll cross the railway track in just a few meters. The road then becomes a bit narrow and passes through the town. If in doubt, ask for the route to INS Shivaji.
- You'll then cross the Indrayani river. After driving for a few more kilometres, you'll find Bhushi Dam on your left side. Continue on the same road going towards INS Shivaji.
- INS Shivaji will be in the front. From here, You'll have to take a left turn. This is a ghat section. The drive also takes you through a forest section. In just a matter of a few minutes, you'll have stunning views of the valley and mountains on your right side.
- There is a famous tourist spot called Shivling Point. This will be on your right side. They have commercialised this spot, and there are small food shacks — a typical tourist spot setting. However, the view from this spot is stunning. You'll be able to see mountains and valleys in the shape of a Shivling.
| Tip: Don't waste your time here before your trek. Visit this spot while coming back from the hike. You'll have this on your left side while driving back to Lonavala from Ekole.
- As you reach Ghusalkhamb village, you'll find a fork. Do not turn left. Take the right fork. This road goes towards Amby Valley.
- After taking the right turn, you'll enter a dense forest section. This is an enjoyable drive, especially in the post-monsoon season.
- You'll find a small circle in an open area. The first exit is the entrance to the Amby valley. Go straight, which is the second exit.
- In just a few meters, you'll find a few shacks on your right side. You'll also find a small clearing and a space for car parking on your left. This is the base of Korigad Trek. You can see the Korigad fort on your immediate left. In the late summer season(May), you'll find tasty blackberries-Karvandas(Carissa carandas) shrubs. You can feast on these during this season.
- Continue on the same road. In about 600 meters, you'll reach a fork. Take a right turn at the fork.
- Take a left turn at the next fork. The road climbs up through a dense forest section and takes you to the Salther Khind(Pass). Get down to the other side.
- As soon as you get down, you'll have terrific views of the Taila Baila walls on your right side. Stay on the same road for Ghangad.
| Tip: After getting down from Salther Khind, you can take a right turn to go to Tail Baila walls.
- As you keep driving to reach Bhamburde village, you'll continue to have beautiful valley views on your right side. On reaching Bhamburde village, take a right turn to Ekole village.
- On the left-hand side of this road, you'll see Navra Navri pinnacles. Navra Navri in Marathi means a bride and groom, and it is called so because of its shape. It looks as if a bride and groom are standing next to each other. You'll see beautiful farmlands on your right side. Reach Ekole village and park your vehicle here. There is also one temple in this village.
Bhamburde is 32 km from Lonavala. Ekole is 3 km from Bhamburde.
Reaching Ghangad by Public Transport System
- You can take a public transport bus from Lonavala to Bhamburde village. A 20-minute walk from there will take you to Ekole village.
- Buses leave from Lonavala to Bhamburde at 9 am and 12.30 pm.
- The last bus from Bhamburde village to Lonavala leaves at 2.30 pm. This is important to remember as there are no other means of transportation available.
Nearest International and Domestic Airport
Pune Airport (PNQ) - 100 km
Nearest Railway Station
Lonavala Station - 35 km
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Frequently Asked Questions About the Ghangad Fort Trek
1. Permission and camping on the Ghangad trek
You don't need to take permission for the trek of Ghangad.
You can camp near the boulder section of Ghangad.
2. Stay Options near Ghangad Trek
If you want to stay overnight, you can stay at Lonavala. You have many Airbnbs and resorts as options.
3. Timings on the Ghangad Trek
There are no specific timing restrictions for the trek.
It is not advisable to start your trek in the afternoon. When the sun sets in the evening, it becomes tricky to climb down the ladders and cover the forest section.
4. Food and Water source on the Ghangad Trek
Lonavala is your last reliable source of food. You will find numerous restaurants in Lonavala and some food shacks near the base of Korigad. Not that there are no hotels near Ekole village.
If you want to have food on the trek, pack your lunch in your tiffin box. You can then have it anytime you want.
There are water cisterns on the fort. However, the water is not clean, and it is advisable to carry your water bottles.
5. Emergency contacts for Ghangad Trek
According to the board put up by Shivaji Trail, the helpline number for the fort: +91 8888500055
The nearest hospital and police station are in Lonavala.
ERSS: For any kind of emergency help, you can contact the Pan-India Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) number- 112
6. ATMs and Network on the trek
ATMs: Lonavala is where you will have the nearest ATM. It is better to carry cash with you than rely on any ATMs on the way. Carry some money either from Pune or Mumbai or at a reliable town en route if driving to the base.
Mobile Networks: You get good coverage of BSNL, Jio and Vodafone through various patches on the trek. However, do not depend on them entirely.
What to Pack for Ghangad Fort Trek
- Basic First Aid kit*
- Identity Card
- Cap/ Scarf/ Bandana & Sunglasses
- Water (Minimum three litres)
- Lemon and salt OR Electrolyte Powder/Drink (Electoral/Gatorade/Glucon D, etc.)
- High-calorie snacks (Nuts & dry fruits, a home-baked cake, etc.)
- Safety Pins, Rubber bands & Whistle (Useful in emergencies.)
- Quick Dry T-shirts are preferable over cotton tees.
- A warm layer (Pullover, sweater or jacket)
- Poncho, only during post-monsoons
- Plastic sheet to wrap electronic devices, only during monsoons
- Sunscreen (SPF 50+)
❖ 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)
Places to Visit After the Ghangad Fort Trek
1. Andharban: Andharban means dark forest. It is a very dense forest. The trees are so thick that the sunlight does not reach the ground. And so the name. Andharban is about 15 km from Ghangad Fort.
2. Mulshi Backwater: Mulshi Dam is a beautiful place to visit and is about 30 km from Ghangad. There are multiple resorts in Mulshi.
3. Tail Baila Walls: If you are taking the same route while returning from the trek and if you have enough time, you can visit the Tail Baila walls, which are less than 30 km from the Ghangad trek. You can hike to the base of Tail Baila. You need to know technical climbing to get to the top of these walls.
4. Korigad Trek: You can combine the Ghangad trek with the Korigad fort trek, located less than 20 km away.
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Trek explored and written by Swarada Ghangurde
Photos by Swarada and Amit Ghangurde
Edited by Gayathri Ranganathan