Maharashtra is blessed with beautiful hill towers in almost every region. All these fortresses have a rich history, and in time they have become famous hiking trails and mountains. Harihar Fort or Harshagad is one of those forts in Maharashtra, surrounded by the green hills of Sahyadri, also known as the Western Ghats. It is located 40 km from Ghoti and Nashik City, 48 km from Igatpuri in Nashik district in Maharashtra. This important fort was built to overlook the trade route through Gonda Ghat, which connects Maharashtra with Gujarat. Today it attracts courageous riders with steep 80-degree steep-cut steps.
Harihar Fort: History
Harihar Fort lies on the Trimbakeshwar Mountain Range of the Western Ghats. The establishment of the fort was postponed to the Seuna or the Yadava Dynasty (between the 9th and 14th centuries). The fort was very important to protect the trade route that passed through Gonda Ghat.
From its inception, Harihar Fort was attacked and occupied by various invaders until the British Army took control. This was one of the fortresses held by the Ahmadnagar Sultanate. In 1636, along with Harihar Fort, Trimbak, Tringalvadi and a few other castles of Poona (now Pune) were donated by Shahaji Bhosale to Mughal General Khan Zaman. Harihar Fort was one of 17 strongholds dedicated to the British in the fall of Trimbak in 1818, when all these forts were captured by Captain Briggs.
Harihar Fort: Building
Captain Briggs has left a detailed description of Harihar Fort. Although much of the castle can withstand time, it still has an amazing structure. Reaching mid-point is very easy. A few lanes from the bottom of the hill meet there along with the dam and certain springs. Some barracks were there, they are no more.
The real ascent to the scarp starts here and really breathes with its awesome ascent. The slope is almost exactly 60.96 meters (200 feet), like a 200-meter-high ladder, set upright on a wall. But the steps are bad and broken in places. Holes are cut in the rock to support the hands, resulting in an unusual shape of the steps.
Harihar Fort: Walking
The amazing thing about the Harihar Fort Trek is that it looks rectangular from the base. But in reality the fort is built on a prism of a triangular rock. The edges of the rock are straight, which is a distinctive feature of this remarkable ancient fortress. These vertical steps are the main attraction for the trip, making it the epicenter of the entire Sahyadri Range.
The Harihar Fort Trek is short but very demanding. The last 200 feet of the hiking trail are an emotional climb, with those steep staircase stairs. Stairs are about 200 steps in total, and they tend to be 80 degrees. The descent is very exciting as you have to descend and sometimes face a 500-meter descent. The construction of the stairs is varied and prominent. It offers amazing and sometimes scary views of the valley below.
Arriving at Base Village
The main villages on the Harihar Fort Trek Route are Harshewadi, Nirgudpada or Kotamvadi. The route from Harshewadi is lighter and faster than Nirgudpada.
Harshewadi is 13 kilometers from Trimbakeshwar. To reach Harshewadi, you can reach Kasurli by bus from Igatpuri ST – Trimbakeshwar – Khodala. If you are traveling from Mumbai, you are taking a train from Mumbai CST to Nashik road. From there, just take a taxi that will take you to Harshewadi. Another option is to take a bus from Nashik to Trimbak, and then a cab to Harshewadi.
The entire Harihar Fort Trek route can be divided into two sections-
Base village to plain
Pteau to the top using direct steps
The broad route from Kotamwadi Village towards the Trimbak region passes the paddy fields. The trail begins to climb slowly, after crossing the fields. It winds through forested forests and reaches open spaces. That hill is connected to the castle. During the rainy season, several small streams can be found along the way. After traveling the same course for some time, you will arrive at your destination. The route from Harshewadi village also leads here.
From the plains, the most challenging part of the trip, with straightforward steps is visible. There is a small sales area at the end of the plateau to fill up on the exciting and challenging journey ahead. The castle is set up on a steep slope. Climbing a 60-foot-high [60.96 m] rock-cut steps is quite a challenge. Steps are worn in many places.
There are about 90 steps before reaching the main entrance or Mahadarvaja. After entering, the route takes the left lane.