- Ajaz Shaikh
Vairatgad Fort Trek - Explore The Unknow Trekking Destination
Vairatgad is a majestic fort built King Bhoj of the Shilahar dynasty in the 11th century. During Shivaji’s period, the fort was used only as a military station. Shivaji Maharaj conquered the Wai region and included Vairatgad and Pandavgad in his kingdom. Soon after the decline of the Maratha Kingdom, the British captured it in 1818.
The name of the fort is supposedly derived from the wild tribe named Vairats, who lived in this area. Every time I visit the vast Sahyadri Range and experience its astonishing beauty, rejoicing each moment. Let's explore the unknown trek of Sahyadri.
How to Reach From Mumbai?
There are two routes to Vairatgad Fort one from Vyajwadi and other from Gherewadi. Vyajwadi one is a little difficult and that is the reason I went ahead on the same route to Gherewadi - a small community living at the base of Vairatgad Fort. The trek starts from the village Hanuman Temple. Now the question is how to reach from Mumbai. There is no direct connectivity to either of the base villages from Mumbai, but Satara has good connectivity by Bus (MSRTC). From Satara Bus Station board a bus going toward Wai via Kadegoan and leave it at Malusurewadi. From there it will take another 30 minutes of walking to our base village.
Bus: Satara is very well connected by road from Mumbai. The frequency of buses is quite high, and usually, bus leaves in the night from Mumbai. It will take around 6-7 hrs to reach Satara from Mumbai.
Train: Satara has good rail connectivity from Mumbai, Pune and rest of the country.
Private Car: If comfort is your priority and travelling in a group go for a by car. Gherewadi is well-connected to Mumbai by roadways it will take around 7 hours via Mumbai - Bengaluru Highway.
Trek To Vairatgad - Explore The Unknow Trekking Destination
The trek trail starts right from the Hanuman Temple at the base village. The entire trail is not that well marked, so would advise taking a local guide from the base village. Vairatgad is usually early morning practise ground for the young local enthusiast who wishes to join the Indian Army.
While walking uphill for about 30 minutes you will come across a vertical rocky patch which also has some rock-cut steps, but are eroded. I must say I was doing this trek post-monsoon, the route will be a bit difficult to decipher in the heavy rain. The route is in a basic shape of four till the main entrance of the fort as described by my local guide.
After another an hour of walking uphill from the rock-cut steps, you will get to see the first glimpse of the fort. After walking for another 30 minutes, you will reach the main entrance of the fort.
Before entering the fort take a left there are 6-7 cisterns and a small cave under the cliff. Move back following the same path. Rock-cut steps are made to reach the top point of the fort.
There are about 15 to 20 steps upwards to the fort. Just inside the fort, Hanuman Temple welcome you. Even outside the temple, there is an idol of Hanuman. Moving further to the left are a couple of lakes and shelter home for night stay. Moving ahead is a big Shiva Temple with a roofed entrance which can easily accommodate a group of 10 to 15 people. The Shiva Temple on the fort is named Vairateshwar Temple. From here you can see the beautiful view of the Satara-Wai Road and the trails that you climbed.
An easy walk along the fortification/rampart will take you to the highest point of the fort. From the top one can get a view of Pandavgad, Dhom Dam, Wai town and Panchgani tableland. It would take about 30 to 45 minutes, one can explore the fort and enjoy mother nature's beauty before descending through the same route.
Best Season To Visit Vairatgad Fort
The best time to do Vairatgad Fort Trek is from June to January. During this period you can see the spectacular views from Vairatgad 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. But not recommended to do on a heavy rainy day.
Listen To Me:
Carry some ready to eat food, atleast 3-4 litres of water, mat/bedsheet to rest and first aid box.
Talk to the native villagers gently and give respect to them, because you are their guests.
Carry an Id proof.
The ideal time to do is to start the trek from the base just after the sunrise. 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 5 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. 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 only.
Camping on the top is possible, but you need to carry your food and everything.
Trek Level: Medium.
Base Village: Gherewadi near Vyajwadi, Malusurewadi (Landmark: Hanuman Temple)
Altitude: 3340 ASL
Time Required: 4 - 5 hours round way.
Region: Satara District