Harihar Fort Trek - The Iconic Climb In The Sahyadris
The hills on which the fort is built looks like a rectangular shape from the base village. But it is built on the triangular prism of rock during the Yadava dynasty. The edges of Harihar fort are almost vertical. It's almost 80 degrees vertically inclined. Harihar Fort Trek is filled with adventure, thrill and beauty that make it must to trek for every trekker.
How to Reach From Mumbai?
It totally depends on the route which you want to ascend Harihar fort. There are two routes to Harihar Fort. Base village for Harihar Fort Trek are:
Nirgunpada / Takeharsh. Nirgunpada is also one of the base village for Basgad Fort Trek. Igatpuri is the major town if you are planning to ascend from Nirgudpada side
Harshewadi is another base location which is an easier route for Harihar Fort Trek. Nashik is the major town if you are planning to ascend this fort from Harshewadi side
Both Igatpuri and Nashik are well connected to other towns via roadways and railways.
To Nirgunpada By Mumbai Local Train: The cheapest and most convenient way to reach Nirgunpada on the base village of Harihar Fort Trek for Mumbaikar is through Local Train (Central Railway). Take the Kasara bound last local train to reach Kasara from Mumbai. Make a quick move to take a sharing taxi/jeep to Nirgunpada. It will take around 90 minutes to reach the base village from Kasara Railway Station.
ProTip: If you are in a group of 6 to 7, hire a taxi from Kasara for a roundtrip. They charge you around Rs 2000-2500.
To Nirgunpada From Igatpuri Railway Station: Travel overnight by any express and take the first MSRTC bus for Trimbakeshwar and alight at Nirgudpada the base village of Harihar Fort Trek.
To Harshewadi from Igatpuri / Trimbakeshwar / Nashik: One can take the Igatpuri – Trimbakeshwar – Khodala bus and get down at Kachurli. From Kachurli village one has to climb a small hill to reach Harshewadi. But the frequency of this is pretty low. So better option is to reach Trimbakeshwar which has proper road connectivity throughout the day and from Trimbakeshwar you can bargain with an auto/ taxi to drop you to Harhsewadi. They will charge around Rs. 350-500 depending on the season.
Harshewadi route for the Harihar fort trek is easier as compared to the route from Nirgunpada is mostly preferred if you have a personal vehicle. Nirgunpada route is the most famous.
The Iconic Climb In The Sahyadris
What makes you travel to any particular place? Sometimes it's about a particular spot that you wish to see in person usually it's all about the overall experience. With a question in mind is climbing these rock-cut stairs of Harihar Fort is gone really scary? I started my journey.....
Harihar Fort also know as Harshagad Fort lies in Trimbakeshwar is an important fort that was constructed to look upon the trade route through Gonda Ghat. The peculiar rock-cut steps pulls in thousands of visitors every year. Every year with the onset of monsoons, thousands of trekkers turn up to this amazing fort. There is a huge risk involved in climbing the stairs section especially in the monsoon season and with such heavy crowd, it turns even riskier. What amazes me the most is that how tough it would have been to construct such structures in that era when only basic equipment and tools were available.
One of the fort's vertical sides facing the Nirgudpada Village got the name "Scottish Kada" because it was first climbed by "Doug Scott" in 1986. He was a popular Himalayan Mountaineer, who took about two days to ascend to the top of the cliff, which stands at 170m.
Nirgunpada village to the plateau (Before the iconic steps)
It was a cold morning of October and the fort was covered under clouds. The views of the surrounding hills from the Nirgunpada base village is fabulous. Trek from Nirgunpada towards the fort start through the routes besides the lovely paddy cultivation.
The fort looked close than it actually was. The trails start gradually climbing up once you cross those fields. From here you need to pass through forest and clearings where you can see the fort.
If you are trekking in the monsoon season, you get a small stream just after you cross those fields in the village. There are arrow marks painted on the rock. But during monsoon season it becomes difficult to spot them. After trekking for another 45 minutes on the same trail, you reach a plateau. The route from Harshewadi also joins here.
ProTip: Wear proper trekking shoes. Carry a pair of trekking poles as well if you have. These 2 trekking gears help you while trekking.
From here you can see the most challenging part of the trek, that is the Iconic steps. Observe how beautifully steps are carved on the almost 80 degrees vertical rock.
Plateau to the Harihar fort top via iconic steps
There is a small stall at the end of the plateau. Take a small break here. Prepare yourself for the very exciting and challenging trek that is awaiting in front of you.
ProTip: Do not turn back while climbing the steps if you are afraid of height. It looks very scary.
These rock-cut steps look scary but once you start climbing them, you have enough support there for your safety. So it is not scary as it looks from far. There are notches carved in for support. Make sure you take the complete advantage of them. Place your foot carefully. During monsoon season they become slippery because of the moss formation. There are around 90 steps before you reach the Mahadarvaja. They are maintained pretty well.
After the Mahadarvaja, the trail takes you to a left traverse. Here, your left is open to a valley and your right is the wall of the fort. You can see the Harshewadi village on your left.
ProTip: Watch out your head. You need to bend down and cross this stretch. This leg of the trek is very narrow. Only one person can proceed at a time.
Once you cross the traverse, you encounter another set of steep steps. You have to climb up around 100 steps to reach the top. After climbing those steep steps, you pass through a small cave. Almost an hour of an exciting climb, you reach the fort.
On the fort, you can see small ponds, a temple of Lord Hanuman and Shiva. You can also see a Balekilla which means the highest point of the fort. After exploring a bit on the fort, head to the highest point of the fort Balekilla. Another 10-15 minutes of a trek leads you to the highest point of the fort. The top is very small. Only a few people can stand there.
Take some time to get absorbed in the 360-degree view of the Sahyadri’s Trimbakeshwar region. Enjoy the mesmerizing view of all the famous peaks and forts completely immersed in lush green colour.
Bhaskargad or Basgad, Anjaneri fort, Brahmagiri, Utwad fort, Phani Dongar hill which has a needle-like structure and many other forts are around you. It is fun to identify all of the forts and peaks if you are in a group!
After spending an hour at the top, you can start to descend. It is the same route you have taken to climb up.
You need to be very careful while descending the iconic steps. Always have the “There point contact” while facing the mountain. Three-point contact is a safety technique where you use 2 hands and one foot.
Best Season to Visit Harihar Fort
The best time to do Harihar fort trek is from June to February. During this period you can see the spectacular views from Harihar fort.
Monsoon is the best season to see the lush green Sahyadris. All the fields in the villages and trails will be full of green grasses.
Post monsoon season offers a clear view of the famous forts and peaks from the Top. You can expect the pleasant weather during this time.
Listen To Me:
Carry some ready to eat food, atleast 2 litres of water and first aid box.
Talk to the native villagers gently and give respect to them. Cause you are their guests.
Carry an Id proof.
You won't find any fancy hotel or homestay place in the base village. So it advisable to take a local villager as a guide and pay him for your breakfast and lunch and also you can leave your bag at their place and carry only must required things.
Harihar fort trek is not recommended for beginners. The iconic stairs can be a bit scary if you are trekking for the first time. Any fit trekker who has prior trekking experience can attempt Harihar fort trek.
The ideal time to do Harihar fort is to start the trek from the base before the sun starts beating down. So that you reach the top before noon and descend for your late lunch. Make sure you come back to the starting point before 3 pm. If you are depending on public transport for your return journey, then after 3 pm, you have only a few options to go back.
Don't try to risk your life while trekking and always take a guide if you don't know the route.
Harihar Fort Trek Level: Easy to Moderate.
Base Village: Nirgunpada, Trimbak.
Altitude: 3676ft ASL
Time Required: 7-8 hours round way.
Region: Trimbakeshwar, Nashik