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Fort Face-Off - Visapur

Just 110Kms from Mumbai near Lonavala, stand the twin forts of Lohagad & Visapur. While Lohagad is a very popular destination along with 2200 yrs Old Bhaja Caves, Visapur, its twin brother almost stands neglected. Lohagad is almost a picnic location due to its easy access & basic amenities provided by the locals. It's Visapur that attracts us the more. What brings this fort to our itinerary?

When we walked up Lohagad fort a few years back, we realized that though this was easy & popular, almost no one talked about neighbouring Visapur. While both plateaus stood shoulder to shoulder, the crowd seemed to be only on Lohagad whereas the top of Visapur almost looked abandoned. With forests, geometrical walls & of course its height, Visapur looked more promising than Lohagad. We resolved & a few months later were spotted across by hikers who had climbed up Lohagad. The divide between Lohagad & Visapur was now obvious. While Lohagad has a lot of fortification intact & a few monuments often visited like pilgrimage by hikers & local alike, Visapur with similar top was isolated, pristine & devoid of any soul. While Lohagad was well supplied, Visapur fed the true spirit of a self-sufficient trekker.

Simple, exciting & a walk that appeals to all the senses, is what truly describes the hike up to Vispaur. Ideal for early mornings or late evening walks, we choose this fort for the isolation, accessibility, views & appeal to all age groups. The walk is on steady gradient for a short while until it reaches a small hamlet called Dhangarpada after which we enter a small forest at the base of the fort. This trail then gets us over a waterfall & the entrance of the fort. There is a large cave here & a temple dedicated to lord Hanuman. A flight of steps gets us into the forts where a set of water cisterns welcome us.

Towards the end of monsoons, the top grows to be a carpet of yellow & green. Tiny Sontikli flowers sway in abundance adding colour & life to the top. The wind greets us with much enthusiasm, our mind runs amock amongst this beauty & we forget that we are so close to civilization. The fort has walls that have stood the test of time & elements. Geometric in construction & design, the walls add a unique character, sense of strength & formidability to the fort.

Exploring the top in all its direction may take a couple of hours. We take a break at one of the various interesting places for a quick snack & walk around the ramparts that have cannons, hidden entrances, water tanks, & doorways. There is no closed shelter to stay, but spending a night in the large room made of rock, will be an out of the world experience. We resolve to come back to spend a night & enjoy the raw beauty of this fort. For all the efforts, this fort is worth a day’s visit as well as an overnight experience.

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16 Oct 2016
1d
INR 2,150
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In a Tizzy - Ghanchakkar!!!

Ghanchakkar (Crazy), as the name suggests is a convoluted trek with a very hidden approach and circuitous route. The mountain does not have a fort atop but just raw beauty! Situated on the banks of Bhandardara Lake and Wilson Dam, this is a mountain that stands tall opposite Ratangad.

Ghanchakkar is the third highest peak in Maharashtra and one of the only three points above the 5000Ft mark. This altitude affords great views of the surrounds, and you will be in great the grand company of some spectacular forts of the Western Ghats - Harishchandragad, Ratangad, Kalsubai, Kathra, Ajoba, Sindola, Karkai amongs many others.

Since there is no fort atop, the walk is through pure wilderness, forests and open scrub land. The large plateau has no accommodation as there are no water cisterns and hence its best visited in the Post Monsoon months when the mountain comes alive with greenery, small streams and swaying grass. This is an ideal place to camp for the night and enjoy the real wild side of the Western Ghats in Maharashtra.

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22 Oct 2016
2d
INR 4,150
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Kohoj - One Man Standing

Unlike the south, the Northern Konkan region boasts of fewer forts and mountains. However, this region was the playing ground for many rulers from Gujarat, Marathas, British and the Portuguese. The northern coast of Maharashtra has many rivers and wide creeks that were used very effectively for trade and transport. This necessitated the construction of forts to offer protection for the trade. Prominent among them are Tandulwadi, Asherigad, Bassein, Gambhirgad etc.

One fort that stands clear and unique is Kohoj. At a maximum height of (575Mtrs)1889Ft, Kohoj stands tall from the base and stays clear from other mountains due to its prominence. It shares no ridges and hence can be spotted from far. The most unique feature of the fort is volcanic plug that feature like a man standing atop the fort and can be spotted from kilometers away.

The trek to Kohoj is easy and can easily be accomplished in a day as it is only about 100Kms from Mumbai. The trek begins at the base village of Vaghote along the Wada-Manor road. Passign through lush green paddy, the trail passes over a small dam, the waters of which are inviting to take a dip (on the way back - and at your own risk!), before entering the forest. The climb gets steeper until a small depression beyond which it further enters a thicker forests before opening up into a vast plain of green swaying grass.

There is a small temple atop and few fresh water cisterns. One can walk to the foot of the 'One Man Standing' statue which is made of a monolithc rock. Looking at the rock, one quickly realizes Kohoj must have been a volcano and the Monolith a plug.

The fort offers great views of the neighboring plains, which in the post-monsoon season look fresh, swaying with golden paddy. On the horizon one can spot the outcrops of Asherigad Fort, Tak Mak and Mahalaxmi pinnacle. The Deheraja river snakes in the plains at a leisurely pace. One can spend hours on end just soaking in the raw beauty of nature.

Time permitting, one can wash the tiredness by taking a dip in the beautiful and serene dam at the base before heading into the cars and some fresh chai.

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06 Nov 2016
1d
INR 2,150
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Million Flowers & a Jewel

Ratangad - Jewel among forts.

A carpet of million tiny flowers bloom post monsoons.

A exciting drive along the banks of Bhandardara Dam.

A visit to 1000 year old temple of Amruteshwar at Ratanwadi.

A cool and covered trek to the fort wading through streams, crossing forests culminating in an exciting climb to the top of the fort.

Mind-boggling views of the fort, sheer walls of the Western Ghats and the bewitching lake and Wilson Dam.

An breathtaking exploration of the fort; visit its hidden caves, doorways, ramparts and water cisterns.

Walk amidst the clouds.

A chance to sample local cuisine.

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08 Oct 2016
2d
INR 4,400
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Snows of Kanchenjunga - Dzongri and Goecha La

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15 Nov 2016
11d
INR 48,900
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