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Thursday, September 3, 2020

Manikgad Fort Trek | A Trek That Will Make You Wonder

Manikgad fort trek, Manikgad killa

Manikgad Fort Trek | A Trek That Will Make You Wonder

Lock-down life, one of the boring and never expected situation, this is first time in life I spent 5 months seating at home and this is the only time I couldn't even moved to any place though I wish to travel. This all continued till 5 month. I was waiting for lock-down to get over and looking for the chance to move out of home with safe precaution. After waiting for long months, finally Lock-down gets over. This is when me along with my friend Mady decides to do small trek from nearby area with proper mask and sanitizer. There were so many treks on the distance of 30-40 km from my home, and Manikgad fort trek was one of it. It is mountain fortress and temple in Gherekila Manikgad of Maharashtra, India. Located among rolling hill and one of the popular trekking destination near to Mumbai. This fort is situated near Vashivali village (Rasayani MIDC), and nearest popular city is Panvel on the distance of 27 km. The height of the fort is 1700 feet.

How to Reach Manikgad Fort

By Air

There is no direct air connectivity to reach Manikgad. Nearest airport to reach here is Mumbai International airport. Vadgaon is the base village and the distance from the airport is 55 km. Once you get down at airport take self-drive vehicle or public transport to reach the base village.

By Train

One can take direct train to Mumbai and then to Panvel or Karjat on central line. Nearest rail head to reach Vadgaon is Panvel and Karjat railway station and fort is further 28 km from respective railway station.
From Karjat and Panvel direct buses are available to reach Vadgaon village in nominal charges. (Bus fare goes up to 25 to 30 per person).

By Road

The fort is visible while traveling across Mumbai-Pune highway. From express way reach Rasayani and then to Vadgaon village. If you are coming from Mumbai then route is Mumbai-Panvel- Rasayani- Vadgaon. Local buses are also available to reach from various location of Mumbai-Pune. You can either reach to Vashivali village or Vadgaon village.
There are two ways to reach Manikagad from Vashivali village. One route goes through Vadgaon village near Vashivali. It takes around 3 to 4 hours to reach the fort from this way. The second route passes through Thakarwadi. One can reach Thakarwadi through two wheeler from Vashivali village. The distance is around 3 km. and roads are tough. The bike can be taken ahead till Katkarwadi which is 1 km away from Thakarwadi. From Katkarwadi route goes straight through long plateau. One of the easy route to reach the summit point of fort. It is highly advisable to take this route especially for new comers, it is easy and time saving also.

How I Traveled to Manikgad Fort Trek Right After Lock-down

After long boring lock-down I along with my friend Mady decides to take small break from quarantine life for most awaited trek. We were still not sure whether villagers will allow us or no, pandemic situation was still there and the lock-down was yet to over completely. The distance to Manikgad fort trek was not more than 30 km from my home. I had some of the basic information about Manikgad fort trek and left to give it a positive direction. We reached Vadgaon village which is one of the base village to start trek. We met one local guy at base and asked him whether this trek can be done or no? yes, he said and heart got relaxed. Happiness started to appear on face. We had lost the actual route where bikes can be taken up to Katkarwadi village decreasing trek distance. After reaching Vashivali village, we parked our bike near to Dam located at base, and starts the trek. The guy who met us was so kind, and helped to find initial route.

As we started walking from village as suggested by local guy, we met another two villagers on route who helped us for further route. We could hardly see someone on road due to pandemic corona, this is the reason we lost the actual route and followed water route. Trail that we choose goes through farm keeping small water streams on right side with view of fort. Remember not to walk through farm, there is narrow human trail to walk. This route has more dense forest. After walking for around 10 minute a small valley of water crossing opens up and ascend starts right here. This was not the actual route of trekking, it was another difficult route we had chosen as we lost the actual path. Route was still not sure but as the water comes from top, this route can definitely take us to top.  The route was different, yet highly adventurous. It is said that "Sometimes the journey is better than destination". It was raining at same time, i was loving this route and ambiance that rain created. We continued with same route and after 10 min walk decides to take a photogenic break here as it was dense forest and wanted to engage with this beauty in the form of forest. The route goes with steep ascending through valley that also had water streams coming from top of mountain. This was huge rocks to walk and it was one of the challenge to us. Going ahead trail changes its moderation level and at some point it makes the route very tough to climb, few rocks were too slippery to climb. Firstly my friend got skid due to slippery rocks.

Manikgad valley
Rock cut valley that we choose as trek route

Manikgad valley
Initial route of water stream valley to follow
Later, we decides to break the water route and looks for another alternative. Forest was the only option, it was definitely going to take us to top where actual route goes. We fall, skid, but the experience of this trek was gigantic. This was first time when we lost in forest, we were so happy. After long 30 min confusion finally we see one human trail and glimpse of happiness flashed on face, we followed the same route and reached the long wide plateau. We could see the glance of fort towards left side. Somehow we managed to move on right path, yet we were not confident enough for the route until we see any arrow marking. We started to follow this trail and after walk of 10 min we came across the Lord Hanuman temple with arrow marking towards Manikgad fort, now we are back on actual path. This temple is the landmark of Manikgad fort route. The route that comes from Katkarwadi meets here. You can reach temple via bike as said earlier, it took us extra 1 hour to reach here through forest trail. From temple it is straight 3 to 4 km walk till base village.

trek route manikgad
Forest route to check the actual path

view of Manikgad pinnacle

One has to complete the round to the mountain and need to reach opposite site of the mountain. One can get dipped in the magic of nature, rain, greenery, fog and wind chill. Monsoon here offers wide variety of flowers and colorful crabs. I thanked Lord Hanuman for taking us back on right path and with the blessing of him we left the place towards summit of fort. Follow temple route and walk straight for another 10 minute as per watch keeping temple on back, there is narrow diversion, take left towards fort. Continue ascending from here through thick forest, it is so dense. Dense amount of shrubs have grown till hip covering the trail and one has to make own way in it. While moving from dense forest there is valley on right side. One has to be careful while ascending, one mistake and you are down in valley. At some point trail is not visible, so be careful from snakes. There are some arrow marking on the route from Hanuman temple to summit point. Another 40 min trek and you come close to summit point. You will pass from large water cistern. There is arrow board placed with the history of Manikagad fort written on it. One can get engaged with surrounding view of fort. The view is amazing and seems like green color has given to surrounding. Another 10 min and you are on summit point.

Lord Hanuman temple
Lord Hanuman temple and also first landmark of trek
one may find variety of crabs on route in monsoon time
Trek route of Manikgad
narrow route with dense forest surrounding where one can hardly see route
The final trek to top was a gradual climb but easy. The first door of the fort was completely destroyed, it was not looking like a door. Summit has small plateau with orange flag (flag of Maratha King-dome). There is one limestone crusher (Chunyacha Ghana) that has been used in old time. There are more than 4 water ponds, top one is bigger. Going ahead second door of the fort was at least looking like a door, Lord Ganesh statue was engraved on it. There is nothing else on top other marvelous view, sometimes this view is much more than other things. We spent almost one an half hours capturing the video where clouds are moving across the mountain. Clouds playing hide and seek were astonishing view. One can witness this view in monsoon time only. From top one can capture mesmerizing view of nearby hills. Karnala fort is visible from here. It is the place to explore history, nature beauty in the form of forest, and amidst fog. The best of the view comes after hardest climb".

flat plateau with the view of small buruz and valley on left
Water cistern at Manikgad fort
first water cistern 10 min before reaching to summit point
Manikgad summit
surrounding view of summit
Manikgad fort
summit of Manikgad fort
Chhatrapati Shivaji, Janta Raja
Swarajya flag at summit point
Manikgad sumit temple
small temple at summit with lord Ganesh carved on it
Karnala fort view from Manikagad
view of Karnala fort pinnacle from Manikgad fort summit
After long break at summit we decides to descend to base village. Same route that descend takes around one hours to reach the temple point. From temple the route goes straight and we follow the same route due to flat walking. This is the route that drops you to Katkarwadi village, but we had parked our bike at Vashivali village Dam. After walk for another 20 minute we again took forest route to reach near to Dam. We lost again but somehow we managed to reach near Dam. I was feeling so happy after reaching back to where we started. Here we end up another trek from Sahyadri with cherish memories.

Manikgad fort trek route, Katkarwadi route
Katkarwadi route towards fort-one with flat walking

Beautiful view of clouds floating across the mountain

Ideal Time to Visit Manikgad Fort

Best time to do Manikgad fort trek is mid-October to February. Climate here is pleasant and one can enjoy the night camping. Monsoon here always welcome the breathe taking view. This is the time when beauty of fort and its nature is at peak point. One has to be extra careful while trekking in monsoon. Route becomes so slippery to climb. Do not trek here in summer season, sun heat ups the rock making your body dehydrated. You will hardly see any trekkers in this season. If you are trekking here in summer then don't forget to carry extra water and sunscreen.

Stay and Food at Manikgad fort

Being local village there are no hotels or resorts for stay. This fort has no caves on top for stay. In winter and summer you can pitch your own tent and experience the bonfire. The only option is to request villagers for home stay and food, and other option is to stay at hotel on the distance of 10-15 km from base village. When it comes to food no food can beat the spice of Maharashtra’s yummy food. Locals here makes delicious home-made food. If you are camping on your own then carry some ready to cook food.

Things to Know Before You Visit to Manikgad Fort

  • Carry you own snacks and enough water to drink. There is no other source of water.
  • Keep your bag-pack loaded with some energy bar or nutrient rich food.
  • Collect some basic route information before going, this will make your trek in easy way.
  • Follow Katkarwadi route that has flat walking.
  • Proper grip shoes are must in monsoon, I got skid two times on wet surface.
  • Do not drink and do not litter the area around the fort.

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