Vasota Fort Trek and Lake Side Camping
Vasota Fort is one of the famous forts for trekking in the Sahyadri Mountains, it is also known because of its wilderness and beauty. Vasota Fort is also known as "Vyaghragad" (Vyaghra - means tiger). Situated in the evergreen forest of Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary Vasota offers the best experience of the Jungle Trek with Lake Side Camping.
Vasota Fort protected by dense jungle, it is inaccessible except for the long and arduous trek. Vasota Fort offers awe-inspiring views of Koyna Backwater. Walking in the dense jungle would be a lifetime dream for so many of you. Isn’t it? For me, it definitely is.
With having some similar experience on my jungle trek to Andharban, I was looking for other jungle treks. I had heard of the Vasota Fort jungle trek earlier so I made it a point to add on my trip to explore Satara.
How to Reach From Mumbai?
There is multiple base village among those two are very popular Bamnoli and Tapola. But the problem with these two locations it's too crowded. So 10kms from Bamnoli is an unexplored base village Furus - less crowded and crystal clear Koyan lakes backwater to enjoy lake swimming. From Furus, one needs to take a boat ride to reach the starting point (Met Indavali) of the Vasota Fort Jungle Trek. There is no direct connectivity to any base village from Mumbai. But Satara has good connectivity from Mumbai and from Satara you can reach the base village easily for Vasota Fort Jungle Trek. From Satara, it would take you 2 hrs around 60 kms to reach our base village Furus. Direct buses do operate between Satara and Furus every 2 hrs, the route passes through the famous Kaas Plateau.
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 the rest of the country.
Private Car: If comfort is your priority and travelling in a group go by car. Furus is well-connected to Mumbai by roadways it will take around 7 hours via Mumbai - Bengaluru Highway.
Where to Stay?
Camping at Vasota Fort is not allowed. You have to stay or camp at the base village. There are a few homestays and camping site along the Koyna Lake in Furus. If you want to enjoy a clean crystal Koyna lake view, less crowded and enjoy the lake swim on a chilled morning. Do check out Range Adventures Holiday Resort, Furus (Please drop a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you need any help for booking). The tent that I carry during the trek is Quechua Camping Tent MH100. It has enough space for 2 people.
Day 1: Lake Side Camping & Walk Around Satara
Breakfast @ Chandravilas
One of the popular spot for breakfast in Satara is Hotel Chandravilas Bhuvan you can have a Maharashtrian style breakfast of misal pav or puri bhaji. Hope you have a stomach for spicy food.
Sajjangad Fort - The final resting place of Saint Ramdas
Post breakfast before starting your journey to Furus make a visit to Sajjangad. Sajjangad fort (meaning “Fort of good people) is located around 12-13kms from Satara city. It is the final resting place of Sant Ramdas, a saint and social reformer in 17th century India. His teachings and works written in books such as Dasbodh are read and followed by many people even today in the state of Maharashtra. It is possible to reach the top of the fort by vehicle. From there one has to climb around 200 steps to reach the gate of the fort.
There is two entrance gate of the fort, first known as “Chatrapati Shivaji Mahadwar” and second as “Shree Samarth Mahadwar”. The fort is open for devotees from sunrise to sunset. Being a place of Samadhi by Samarth Ramdas Swami, the spiritual guru of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja, it is a holy place.
The maintenance of the fort and the Samadhi (final resting place) of Ramdas is taken care by Ramdas Swami Sansthan, a trust which has existed since the time of Shri Ramdas Swami. The trust provides free lodging and food for the devotees of Samarth Ramdas Swami. People can notice while climbing to Sajjangad that there are many different small temples of Lord Hanuman.
There is a Samadhi (final resting place) of Ramdas Swami and a beautiful lord ram temple. This area is very peaceful than any other holy place. There is a way thru the temple to go on the backside of the temple. Hanuman temple is located on the left side corner. The moment you come out of the temple on the backside, you will get a stunning view of dam water (Urmodi Dam), mountains, valleys, Waterfall (Can be seen only during monsoon) & sunset. I was stunned to see such a spectacular impressive striking views of nature.
History: What Happened In Past
The fort was made by Bahamani Emperors in between (1347-1527). After that in (1527-1686), it came under the Adilshah dynasty. Mughal king defeated Adilshah and the fort came under the Mughal rule. Shivaji Maharaja conquers the fort and it was renamed Sajjangad after he requested Shri Ramdas Swami to set up his permanent monastery.
Lunch @ Sajjangad Restaurant
There is one small local restaurant at Sajjangad parking. You need to order in advance as they need at least 30 min to prepare your meal. Pithle Bhakri is very tasty whereas the rest of the food was average. After our lunch break, you can proceed towards our Lake Side Camping site in Furus which was our ultimate destination. Post lunch lets head towards our final destination for Vasota Fort Jungle Trek, the base village - Furus.
Camping @ Koyna Backwater
Imagine sitting by a campfire surrounded by a landscape of crystal clear lakes and layers of cold evening weather. It just set to be one of the most memorable ones. To witness the amazing sunset on a crystal clear Koyna Lake, try to reach the base village before 5:00 PM. After the sunset, the sky will be pitch black and the mountains will disappear and you would see the bright stars in the dark sky. Enjoy Barbeque followed by yummy dinner over bollywood music witnessing amazing moon rise from the mountains and in no time the lake around the campsite will glitter like a diamonds. The cold breeze along with the moonlight will definitely make the night a memorable one. Now its time to sleep, tomorrow will be a big day for us.
Day 2: A Trek Within The Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary
You have to get up early to experience the early morning view of Koyna Lake from your tent. For experience take a plunge into the turquoise chilled Koyna Lake. Let me tell you the lake will look inviting but its extremely dangerous if you can't swim, so be careful. After a nice refreshing swim in the cold lake and recharging hot and spicy breakfast, its time to move towards your final destination - Vasota Fort Jungle Trek
Base Village to Met Indavali (Starting Point)
After a delightful breakfast starts your ferry journey to Vasota Fort - latest by 7:30 AM. Two hours long boat ride may sound tedious but believe me, when you look at the crystal reflections of islands on the water and when you observe the purity of nature, you are bound to fall in love with those islands. Koyna Backwater Lake is also known as Mini Kashmir. Even after the commercialisation of Jungle treks to Vasota Fort, the locals and the tourist often take care of the location by keeping it clean and green.
As you approach the island that leads to Vasota Fort, you could clearly see the mountain range of Vasota Fort. The jungles on these islands are always dense and lush green, regardless of the seasons.
At the start, you will find a forest department office where you will need to pay all the fees (Boat parking, Forest Entry, Guide, Camera). Also, a counting of plastics being carried along will be done and a security deposit of ₹500 will be taken. The deposit will only be returned if the plastic count is the same on your return. A very good initiative to keep the mountains clean.
Met Indavali to Vasota Fort
It's 09:30 AM when I started my trek passing through dense jungles. Hardly a 10 minutes of trek you will find a Hanuman Temple and running water stream which you can, of course, enjoy on a way back. Sunlight could barely pass through that dense forest cover. Time passed by so quickly and within around 2 hours, you can easily make it to the top.
The fort is mostly in ruins. It comprises of three main sections – Old Fort, New Fort and Nageshwar cave temple. There is a temple of Lord Hanuman at the entrance. The other point of interest is Babu Kada which is a huge U shaped cliff that lies next to the Vasota Fort. From this point, one can view the Old Vasota Fort which is closed for trekkers due to the presence of wild animals. From the top, you can clearly see the beautiful lake formation between the mountains. The mountains have their glory as well.
Babu Kada is very similar to Konkan Kada. Very steep fall of 1000 and more feet. Very beautiful. Behind that, there is Old Vasota. Which is now unreachable and closed for trekkers. On the way to Babu Kada there were two tanks full of drinking water.
For Babu Kada, you need to take left from the top Hanuman Mandir and the new fort is on the right of the Hanuman Temple. With Panoramic views from every side, Vasota fort offers unique majestic views of the diverse mountain range. With snake-shaped lakes from one side to edgy mountains on the other. You can even spot the boats parked by the lake from the top, though you may need a sharp vision for that.
Enjoy the views of the surrounding regions from the top, enjoy a photo session from every possible corner and angle from the Vasota Fort. Have your carry refreshment/ lunch before you start with the descend as you need to be back to the base before 4:00 PM since the base village is roughly two hours long ride and you need to be at the base village before sunset. The trek back to the boats is fairly fun as it's all descend.
While returning the sunset transformed the green lakes into the calm reflective grey ones and as time moves towards sunset the sky will turn all indigo purplish-blue.
So finally the dream of trekking through the dense jungles of Koyna wildlife sanctuary was fulfilled. Still wondering how beautiful it would be just after the