Harihar fort or Harshagad is one of the most enthralling treks in Maharashtra. The fort trails are capable of giving you goosebumps with every step you take. Occupied by the Western Ghats, most of the forts in Maharashtra are strategically built on a hilltop, cleverly utilizing the nature given mountain ranges and ghats. Explore the rich harmony and the unique mixture of forests and forts in Maharashtra.
Harihar fort was occupied by the Yadava Dynasty, Mughals and eventually the British throughout its history. Due to its elevation of 3676 ft, the fortress was an ideal location which provided a 360 degree panoramic view of the area to lookout for the trade route and potential attacks. The fort trail consists of vertically carved steep stone stairs with a valley on the other side. This section of the trail is what makes Harihar fort stand out from the rest. The stairs are narrow, allowing one person at a time to pass through. The entire trail is fairly medium. It is recommended to travel with an expert guide unless you are an experienced trekker.
The Harihar Fort is located 40 kms from Nashik and its base villages are Harshewadi and Nirgudpada. The former being 38 km away from Nashik and the latter being 47 km away. The trek may begin from either of these villages which are located not more than 5 kms away to the top. The trek duration is approximately 8 kms back and forth. Once you reach the summit, you will witness the spectacular view of the nearby peaks og Anjaneri fort, Brahmagiri, Utwad, Bhaskargad and Basgad.
Out of the two base villages, Nirgudpada is the preferred one by people traveling from Mumbai whereas people traveling from Nashik prefer Harshewadi. Embark your journey at the crack of dawn at 3 am and start climbing. If you are traveling from Mumbai, there are trains, buses, and private taxis which can drop you at Igatpuri or Nashik. Igatpuri being 46 km from Nirgudpada would be the closest town. The trek trail consists of open fields, farms and rocky steps. Conveniently, the trek is divided into two phases; the first phase consists of crossing the Nirgudpada village to the plateau and the second stretch starts from the plateau region to the summit. The first stretch covers the typical village of Maharashtra where the muddy road in the middle leads you to the mountains, lush green farms on both sides of the road, cows, bullock carts and small huts for houses. There are several dhabas, restaurants in Nirgudpada where you can have tasty breakfast and lunch.
Make sure you start your ascent before 2 pm. The trail can be a bit confusing hence either download the GPX file or hire a local expert to guide you throughout. You will be trekking for an hour or so in the first stretch. The monsoons create a lovely scene of green farms and mountains with drizzle. Often it creates streams along the way through the village. The more beautiful the trek is, the more dangerous and thrilling it becomes. The muddy roads and rocky stairs are slippery during the monsoons hence be extremely cautious while hiking. It is recommended to wear the right footwear with good grip to avoid falling. Keeping in mind the risky nature of the trek, there are notches set up along the stairway to provide support for the travelers.
? If you have vertigo, kindly refrain from climbing the rocky steps.
There are also ancient Ganesh, Shiva and Nandi temples in the region you should visit. The highest point of the fort has a small Hanuman temple and a small pond. Trimbakeshwar Shiva temple is a well known pilgrim destination not so far far from Harihar fort. The nearby attractions are as follows:
- Durg Bhandar
- Gangadwar (Origin of Godavari River)
- Trimbak Falls
- Navara Navari Fort
- Talegaon Dam View Point
If you are staying overnight after your trek, Igatpuri has some of the most scenic, gorgeous farm stays, villas and resorts. The weather stays pleasant throughout the year in Igatpuri on the other hand, monsoons create a magical realm here. Also visit Nashik’s world famous Sula Vineyards while you are in the area. The vineyards are spread in acres of land offering vineyards. Wine tastings, villa stays etc.
The iconic rocky steps are risky and there are some things you should keep in mind before visiting. People who are below 12 and above 50 are advised not to make advances to climb the fort as it requires fitness to cross through passages and stairs. Keep calm during the climb and maintain the balance by ‘three point position’. The entry fee is 30 rs with parking available.