The Complete Guide to Sudhagad Fort Trek
The Sudhagad Fort Trek is technically a one-day trek, but stretching it to two, with overnight camping at the wada (old village house with a huge open space in the centre) will help you squeeze the best out of the trek. Also, covering the entire plateau takes around 2-3 hours, so it becomes a little exhausting if done as a single day trek.
Image from Indiahikes Archive
Some of the places that can be visited around here are Takmaktok, Bhorai Devi temple and Maha Darwaja, apart from the numerous water bodies on top.
Sudhagad lies in Pali, which is centrally located, between Mumbai and Pune. It is just a few hours’ journeys from both these cities. The hill rises to a height of about 618 metres and is well-fortified by cliffs. There are staircases and ladders to navigate the steep patches en route. Due to its strategic position and strength, it was proposed as the capital of Hindavi Swaraj. However, after a survey of Raigad, Shivaji Maharaja chose the latter because of its central location.
Author: Vaibhav Chauhan
For detailed information about how to do the trek, click here.
If you want to look at other treks in Maharashtra, click here.
➤ Short Itinerary
A relaxing two-day trek in Maharashtra
- The trail to Sudhagad is a stairway to heaven in monsoon.
- You’re surrounded by highly saturated green, with unimaginably beautiful weather.
- Atop the peak is a 50-acre plateau with undulating green meadows.
- It’s the perfect place to lie on the grass and stare at the clouds with your friends or family.
- Pass a ridge with an abundance of wild banana plantations on either side.
- To squeeze the best out of the trekking camp overnight at the wada (old village house with a huge open space in the centre)
➤ Trail Information
The origin of this fort dates back to the 2nd century BC, built-in around the same age as the Thanale Caves and Khadsamble caves nearby. It was then called Bhrorapgad (after its presiding deity, Bhorai Devi). The Bhorai Devi temple on top is said to have been built by Sage Bhrug Rishi. The rulers of the Bhor dynasty were worshippers of Bhorai Devi. In 1436, the fort was captured by the Bahamani Sultan. In 1657, the Marathas took over and renamed it Sudhagad, which means “the sweet fort.” In the regime of the Peshwas, the Pantsachivas of Bhor became the custodians of this fort. After the annexation of princely states in 1950, the fort became patron-less. As a result, the fort is in a state of ruins, even though it escaped the wrath of the British.
Start to Sudhagad Fort Trek. Image from Indiahikes Archive
Day 1: Thakurwadi – Sudhagad Wada – Sudhagad Plateau
- Distance: 8-10 km
- Time took: 4-5 hours
You can see the massive walls of the Sudhagad fort right behind the temple at Thakurwadi village. Start walking in the direction of the fort. Spot a mud trail climbing up the ridge, right behind the village houses.
Lovely village side trail
The trail is broad and well-marked. You will see paddy fields on your left and the Thakurwadi village below. In around 20 minutes, you begin to see the right edge of the fort. You have to take the trail that goes across the right ridge, where there is a ladder erected to negotiate the steep fort walls. As you climb up the ridge, you begin to see the Sagargad, another fort, towards the west. Continue on the trail for around 25 minutes till you see shrubs and trees on either side. As you climb, watch out for the sharp cliff of Takmaktok. Behind that, you can also see the Tailbaila plateau, along with the forts of Sudhagad and Ghanghad. As you march ahead, the path gets narrower and the jungle grows thicker. In around 20 minutes, the fort bastion and the ladder come into view at a distance. Walk towards the ladder, climb up and continue on the upper ridge. You will begin to see small rocks and boulders on the way. The trail has big trees towering on either side.
The trail ascends sharply. Image from Indiahikes Archive
Watch out for an open space, which will appear in around 20 minutes. From here, the top bastion is visible. As you proceed, lookout for a huge rock staircase leading to the bastion (Pachhapur Darwaja). Climb up and continue on the trail until you come across a water tank. This tank will have water till late November or early December. The slopes are now green and gentle. If it is monsoon, watch out for a small waterfall and a stream on the way. The entire area is covered with wildflowers – pink, yellow and blue. You can also see the Amba river flowing down in the valley. It takes around 2 hours to reach the top. You will see a huge plateau at the top. There are white arrow marks painted onto rocks indicating the way. Follow these marks till you come across a lake on the left, with Tailbaila seen on the right. Keeping to the left of the plateau, walk till you spot a lotus pond.
Lotus Pond on the way. Image from Indiahikes Archive
The entire area is a vast tabletop, flat land with several water bodies formed in monsoon. Green grass stretches out as far as the eye can see. If you walk further on the plateau, you’ll see a huge or a wada. It is a typical village house, with space open to the sky in the centre. You can rest in the wada and then explore the plateau. Camp overnight at the wada.
Day 2: Sudhagad – Mahadarwaja – Dhondase
- Distance: 7-8 km
- Time taken: 2 hours
Watch the sunrise from the plateau near the Bhorai Devi temple or Takmaktok. You can see the golden rays fall one by one on Ghanghad and adjoining mountain ranges.
Beautiful views of the valley. Image from Indiahikes Archive
A good idea while getting down would be to take the trail through Mahadarwaja. It will take you to Dhondase village. Mahadarwaja is diametrically opposite to Pachhapur Darwaja in the north. From the wada, take the trail that goes left, towards the Bhorai Devi temple. Walk on the plateau for 5-10 minutes in the direction of Tailbaila. The trail enters thickets within ten minutes and gradually descends. Continue on the trail until you spot the walls of the fort. In a few minutes, you’ll come across a huge gate/door, called the Dindi Darwaja, which is a replica of Mahadarwaja at Raigad fort. The door is well protected since it is hidden in between two huge bastions. Walkthrough the door and continue to climb down the huge staircase. You can also visit the Chor Darwaja, which means “thief entrance;” it is a secret entrance. There is a very small opening to pass through this secret passage through a deep trench. It takes you to the other side of the wall.
Image from Indiahikes Archive
If you have skipped the Chor Darwaja, continue to move down the fort stairs. After 15 minutes of descent, you’ll enter forests with trees and shrubs. Another half-hour lake, lookout for a small stream. You will have to ford the stream and stay on the trail until you reach Dhondase village. It takes around 2 hours to reach Dhondase village from the top. From here, you can take a vehicle back to Pali and then proceed towards Mumbai / Pune. The range is huge and there are many options and trails to be explored around here.
1) Sudhagad – Tailbaila – Ghanghad – Korigad: Descend Sudhagad from Maha Darwaja on the Dhondase route. Continue towards Savashni ghat route to reach Tailbaila walls, and further towards Bhamburde village, which is the base of Ghanghad fort. From Tailbaila, one can also go towards Korigad and proceed towards Lonavala.
2) Sudhagad – Thanale caves – Tailbaila: Descend Sudhagad from Maha Darwaja on the Dhondase route and reach Nadsur village, from where you can walk to Thanale caves and proceed to Tailbaila.
➤ How much fitness do you need for the Sudhagad Fort trek?
The secret to ascending any trail lies in building your cardiovascular endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Ideally, you should be able to jog 4 km in 20 minutes before the start of the trek. It takes time to be able to cover this distance in the given time. Start slow and increase your pace everyday. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too.
This is another area you should work on. You will need to build strength in your muscles and in your core body. You can do some squats to strengthen your leg muscles. Do around 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set. Apart from this, you can add planks and crunches to your work out.
Another aspect that will help you trek comfortably is flexibility. For this, you can do some stretching exercises – stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek.
Working out indoors
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.
➤ What to Take on Your Trek
No, stuffing it all in isn’t the right way to do it Packing a backpack correctly saves precious time that you might waste trying to find your things later. It is wise to spend some time learning what goes into packing a backpack.
What should I pack? On a trek, you only get what you take. Something as simple as a forgotten matchbox can cripple your cooking plans throughout the trek. So, it’s essential to prepare early and prepare well. To begin with, make a checklist. While shopping, remember this thumb rule – keep it light. “Every item needs to be light. This ensures that your backpack, on the whole, stays light,” says Sandhya UC, co-founder of Indiahikes. Balancing out heavy items with light ones isn’t going to have the same effect as having all light items. “Always opt for good quality, light items,” says Sandhya.
How to pack The thumb rule for this one is to eliminate air spaces. Make sure that everything is packed tightly, especially clothes and jackets, as they tend to take up maximum air space. Put in all the large items first. Then squeeze in the smaller ones in the gaps. This ensures minimum air space. A good way to pack clothes is by using the Ranger Roll method.
➤ How to Plan Your Travel
Getting to Thakurwadi
The easiest and quickest way to get to Thakurwadi is to drive down.
From Mumbai, it takes around three hours to reach Thakurwadi.