Are you a beginner looking for an easy trek for a one-day trip near Pune? The Lohagad Fort Trek is the perfect escape for you this weekend! This beautiful trek is designed in one of the strongest forts of the Maratha reign and will give you the thrills you need for your day out. Let’s explore the trek in detail! The Long-Reigning History of Lohagad Fort Located close to the Lonavala hill station in Maharashtra, India, Lohagad Fort is a living reminder of the region's rich past as well as a trekker's paradise perched atop the rugged hills of the Western Ghats, narrating tales of a bygone era and showcasing the natural beauty that envelopes its ancient walls. The castle, known as Lohagad Fort or "Iron Fort," was strategically positioned to watch the trade routes that passed through the Sahyadri mountain range. It is thought to have been built in the second century and has seen the rise and fall of several dynasties, including the Marathas and the Mughals. Over the years, it changed hands multiple times and became a formidable military outpost. A fascinating part of the history of Lohagad Fort is its connection to the fabled Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Shivaji took control of the castle in 1648 but later gave it to the Mughals. The Marathas, led by Nana Phadnavis, reclaimed it in the 18th century. During the British colonial period, the fort's strategic significance declined, and it eventually became a historical and trekking destination. The architectural design of Lohagad Fort is a remarkable demonstration of the mastery of its builders in engineering. The castle comprises four main sections: the Vinchukata (tail of the scorpion), the Ganesh Darwaja, the Hanuman Darwaja, and the Maha Darwaja. Each section has distinctive features, from grand gates to elaborate stone carvings. The Maha Darwaja, in particular, is a testament to the military prowess of those who built it. The castle’s layout and design synthesise military strategy and artistic beauty. The castle's elevated position offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding hills and valleys, offering an insight into the difficulties faced by its defenders centuries ago. Remaining remnants of ancient structures, including reservoirs, temples, and storage rooms, become visible as one explores the fort. In addition to being a historical relic, Lohagad Fort is a starting point for exploring the alluring natural beauty of the Western Ghats. The hike to the castle passes through verdant landscapes, thick forests, and winding pathways. In the monsoon, the area is bathed in vivid hues, with waterfalls tumbling down the hills and the air heavy with the earthy scent of moist soil. The castle’s environs become a photographer's dream, capturing the interaction of mist and mountains and producing a surreal atmosphere. The varied flora and fauna further enhance the allure, with various birds and butterflies appearing. The Alluring Lohagad Fort Trek: For a Great One-Day Trip Near Pune In the morning: Departing from Bhaje village, the 4-kilometre drive sets the stage for an immersive experience. The morning sun illuminates the landscape, and the roads are remarkably clean, adding to the joy of the journey. Start your day early and take advantage of the cool morning weather. The roads leading to Lohagad are not just practical routes but picturesque avenues, offering a prelude to the beauty that awaits. · The drive to Lohagad offers a peaceful experience of nature's peace. The cool, pleasant surroundings create a refreshing atmosphere. The roads blend into the natural beauty, meandering through hills and valleys and revealing snippets of the allure of the Western Ghats. As you drive along, you catch the first glimpse of Visapur Fort, rising majestically from the morning sky in an awe-inspiring silhouette. Towards the Lohagad Fort Trek: · As you approach Lohagad, the sight of Visapur Fort sets the tone for the day's exploration; the intricate fortifications of Visapur, visible to the unaided eye, serve as a teaser of the historical richness that awaits. The scene is not just a visual delight; it sparks anticipation and curiosity about the stories hidden within the walls of these ancient forts. The journey towards Lohagad is not just a physical movement but a gradual immersion into the historical and natural tapestry of the area. As the journey continues, Lohagad Fort's imposing presence becomes more apparent. The surrounding landscape reveals the massive building, inspiring awe and wonder. The view of "Vinchukada," a crucial component of the castle, is pleasing to the eye and speaks to the historical significance of the location. Imagining the sensations and thrills felt in the fort during ancient times becomes more vivid against the backdrop of this alluring scenery. The Base of Lohagad Fort Trek—Lohagad Wadi: Reaching the base village of Lohagad, or 'Lohagad wadi,' signifies the journey's end. The village greets you with a statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, a potent representation of the historical significance associated with this area. The well-arranged shops along the path provide a window into the local way of life, enabling hikers to experience the essence of rural life before beginning the last ascent. Doing the Lohagad Fort Trek: · The journey towards Lohagad is not just a physical climb but a voyage through time and history. The historical significance of the castle is marked by a check post run by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), where a nominal fee of Rs 25/- is charged, a small contribution towards the upkeep of this ancient marvel. · The scenery opens as the trek continues, offering a stunning view of Pawana Lake behind the castle. This mid-trek viewpoint offers a peaceful moment for hikers to take in Lohagad's natural beauty as the lake sits amidst hills and verdant surroundings, contrasting with the castle's historic grandeur to create a picturesque scene. Exploring the Gorgeous Fort: · The four Darwajas (Ganesh Darwaja, Narayan Darwaja, Hanuman Darwaja, and Maha Darwaja) each hold a fragment of history, and passing through them is like passing through a portal into the past, revealing the glories of the fort gradually. · castle · Going a little farther, the fort opens into what is called 'Vinchu Kada,' which is like a scorpion's tail. This section, because of its distinct topography, is a visual treat. The historical significance and the natural formations leave a memorable impression. What An Afternoon Looks Like on the Lohagad Fort Trek: · Trekkers can take in the natural and historical beauty around them during the midday break. Take a moment to relax at Mahadev Mandir, where the divine and the ancient meet in the heart of Lohagad. Think back on the layers of history etched into the stones of the castle and the breathtaking views that appear around every corner. · During the day, those looking for a more daring experience can see glimpses of neighbouring forts from Lohagad's viewpoint. These include Visapur, Tikona, Tung, Morgiri, and others, creating a panoramic view that stretches beyond the limits of Lohagad. Each fort's unique history adds to the region's rich historical tapestry. · Before starting the descent, take a moment to rest and revitalise at Mahadev Mandir. The spiritual atmosphere provides a peaceful place to consider the day's findings and recognise the connection between history and the environment. Concluding the Lohagad Fort Trek: · The Lohagad Fort closes promptly at 5:30 p.m. Trekkers are advised by the castle’s guards to finish exploring by 5:15 p.m. to ensure a timely departure. This rigorous schedule guarantees the fort's preservation and the safety of its visitors. What to Pack for the Lohagad Fort Trek? Clothing: Pack additional clothes in case the weather unexpectedly changes. To be comfortable throughout the trip, choose lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing. Opt for long sleeves and slacks to guard against sun exposure and any scratches from plants. · Trekking Shoes: A smooth trip requires comfortable, well-fitting shoes that help avoid blisters and pain. Invest in a nice pair of trekking shoes with ankle support to handle the uneven terrain. · Backpack: Bring a durable backpack to store your belongings. Look for one with cushioned shoulder straps to be comfortable on the hike. Ensure the bag has enough room for drinks, food, a first-aid kit, and extra clothing. · Water Bottles: The hike to Lohagad Fort may be physically taxing, so it is important to carry enough water to stay hydrated. You may want to consider using a reusable water bottle. · Snacks: Bring energy-boosting foods to nourish you during the hike, such as fruits, granola bars, and nuts. Trail mix, a handy blend of nuts and dried fruits is another great choice. · Weather-Appropriate Gear: When packing for a trip during the monsoon, make sure you have a waterproof jacket, poncho, and quick-dry clothes; in milder months, carry a jacket or sweater for cold evenings. Before the journey, check the weather prediction. · Sun Screen: This high terrain can expose you to harsh sunlight, so carry basics like sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat or cap to shield yourself from the sun's rays. · Trekking Poles: Trekking poles improve your balance and offer stability and support, especially on steep ascents and descents. It would help if you thought about getting foldable poles for convenient storage. · Navigation Gear: Before trekking, familiarise yourself with the trail to prevent getting lost. Carry a thorough trekking route map or use a GPS gadget to guarantee you remain on the right path. · First-Aid Kit: Assemble a simple first-aid bag with bandages, painkillers, antiseptic ointment, blister patches, and other personal drugs you might require. This kit can come in handy for treating small injuries or discomfort that may arise throughout the walk. · Trash Bags: Follow the Leave No Trace philosophy by packing your rubbish in little trash bags, maintaining a clean trekking track, and protecting the area's natural beauty. · Flashlights: A headlamp or flashlight is necessary to explore the fort or descend after dusk. Ensure it has enough battery life, and consider bringing extra batteries. · Knives/Multi-Tools: A small multi-tool or knife can be useful for various tasks, from cutting rope to minor repairs. Pick a tool that will fit into your backpack with ease. Best Time to Visit Lohagad Fort Lohagad Fort Trek is best done in the monsoon season (June to September) when the views are breathtaking and the temperature is cool. But be careful on the slick paths during this time of year. Winter (October to February) is also nice when the weather is mild. How to Reach Lohagad Fort There are several surrounding cities from which Lohagad Fort may be reached. Here is a brief guide on how to get here: By Rail: Trains from Pune and Mumbai arrive at Lonavala, the closest railway station to Lohagad Fort. From Lonavala, you can hire local transport, such as autos or taxis, to reach Bhaje, the base village, from where you can start your trek to Lohagad. By Road: Road travel is the most popular way to get here. From Pune, take the Mumbai-Pune Motorway and get off at Lonavala. From Lonavala, go towards Bhaje village, the starting point of the Lohagad trek. Lohagad is about 4 km from Bhaje. The roads that lead to Lohagad are well-maintained and offer a smooth ride. The Trekking Route for Lohagad Fort Trek: The Lohagad Fort trek starts from Bhaje, the base village. It is a well-marked trail that takes two to three hours to reach the summit of the fort. Along the way, you will see the magnificent Visapur Fort, which adds to the trek's scenic beauty and historical charm. Trekkers of all skill levels will enjoy the trek's breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Conclusion Hikers leave the Lohagad Fort trek with a treasure trove of memories as the day ends. Lohagad is more than just a historical landmark; it is a phenomenon of nature's grandeur and historical intrigue. During the monsoon, the castle becomes a heavenly spectacle, veiled in fog, as though the clouds have descended upon its ancient walls. As you say goodbye to Lohagad, you leave with tired legs and a heart full of appreciation for the beauty of the Sahyadri Mountains and the timeless stories etched in the stones of Lohagad Fort. The journey from dawn to dusk encompasses physical exploration and a deep dive into the layers of history and the wonders of nature. Lohagad Fort, with its strategic design, breathtaking vistas, and tales of valour, stands as a testament to the human spirit across centuries. This one-day trip near Pune will fulfil your heart’s desire for trekking, even if you’re a beginner! Pack your bags and head to Lohagad Fort for a thrilling day out!