About the fort:
Trek to Lohagad Fort is one of the most visited destinations in Lonavala region. Lohagad – means Iron Fort in Marathi is a fort situated in Malavli area. The fort is an architectural marvel and can be identified from far distance by it’s long and narrow fortified structure called Vinchukata – means scorpion’s tail in Marathi.
Lohagad was built during in the eighteenth century during Satavahanas time. In the past Lohagad was ruled by many dynasties like Nizams, Bahamanis, Mughals and of course the Maratha's. Shivaji Maharaj recaptured the fort in 1670 after he had to forcibly surrender the fort to Mughals after the Treaty of Purandar.
It is said that Lohagad was named as Capital for sometime before Shivaji Maharaj captured Raigad. The reason for this is that, The Vinchukata was a very important structure and was used to monitor some very important routes and forts. Also, The Vinchukata couldn’t be approached easily due to it’s steep base.
How to reach Lohagad:
Technically, the base village for Lohagad Fort is Lohagadwadi. But if you are coming by train you have to get down at Malavli Station.
How to reach Lohagad from Pune:
- By Train: Catch local train from Pune Junction going towards Lonavala. Local trains depart every fifteen minutes from Pune Junction, so you do not need to worry about train availability. Get down at Malavli Station which is one stop before Lonavala. It is approximately hundred minutes journey from Pune Station and the fare is thirty four rupees per head.
- By Road: If you have a bike or a four wheeler, take the Old Pune - Mumbai highway. You can take the Pune - Mumbai express highway, but the route will be long, so I suggest you take the old highway. You have to look out for Ekvira Chowk or Wax Museum as your checkpoint. From this circle, you have to turn left and head straight to reach the base village. The fort is sixty five kilometers from Pune via Old Pune - Mumbai highway, and it is approximately two hours drive.
How to reach Lohagad from Mumbai:
- By Train: Take any train to Lonavala, because Malavli stop is not available for passenger trains, so after reaching Lonavala, you have to take a Local train to reach Malavli station. Fare from Kalyan Junction to Lonavala station is one hundred and forty rupees per head and it is a two hours journey. From Lonavala, it takes about ten minutes to reach Malavli station and the fare is twenty four rupees per head.
- By Road: Lohagad Fort is a hundred kilometers drive from Mumbai. So, unless you are driving enthusiast, I will suggest you to take option of travelling by train. The route although is not that difficult. You just have to drive through Mumbai - Pune Express Highway till Lonavala. After reaching Lonavala, get on Old Mumbai highway and drive till Ekvira Chowk and take a right. Drive straight till you reach Lohagad Fort.
I decided one fine weekend to do this hike and set out for the base village Lohagadwadi from Pune at seven in morning on my bike. I reached the base approximately at half past eight as it is not far from Pune. I observed a lot of people start their hike from Malavli, still I had my bike so I started from Lohagadwadi. It does not make much difference if you start from Malavli because the path is a well built road.
Hiking on Lohagad is very easy as the path is now built with steps. So there is no mud or carved steps out of rock which might sound some trekkers boring, but it isn’t. In my experience, climbing simple steps is a lot difficult than climbing a boulder or hiking through mud.
So, I started to climb the steps and after a while I reached the first of the four grand entrance door to the fort named Ganesh Darwaja. There is a carving of Lord Ganesh within the wall to the right of the door. I entered and proceeded further tracing the steps until I reached the second door called Narayan Darwaja.
At this point, I had reached at a height from where I could see the walls of the fort above me and Pavana river when I gazed down to the Earth. After passing through the Darwaja, you can see some ruined and rusted cannons laid on the fort structure.
Moving further I got caught up in a tug of war with the monkeys sitting on the route towards Hanuman Darwaja. So please be aware of monkeys snatching away your belongings, especially eatables and bags. The monkeys are so smart that they know how to open a bottle too. Anyway, I had to trade my water bottle in return of my bag, so be aware or carry a stick to scare them off.
So moving ahead, I reached the Hanuman Darwaja. There are some carvings on every door structure. Moving further, I reached the fourth and final door named Maha Darwaja. This is door from where the area of fort stars. After entering the Maha Darwaja, there is some built-up area around the door structure you can explore. You can get a better sight of the landscape around and also view the Pavana river.
I explored around the area and there are some caves where you can sit and rest for a while. It is quite amazing that all the four door structures remain intact and stand strong. This shows the defensive edge the fort provided to the enemies trying to enter the fort. I halted there for a few minutes because I was thirsty and had lost my water to the monkey few steps back.
After resting, I started to move to the fort, again by tracking the steps. In a few minutes, I reached the top of the fort. As soon as I entered the fort I saw that the only standing artifacts were a Durga on my left, a Lord Shiva temple, a tomb like structure named Rajarani Mandir and a Masjid built on the tomb of Sheikh Umar.
There is also a big cave called the Laxmi Kholi – means Lord Laxmi room. It is quite a big cave with many rooms. It is said that the rulers would keep all their treasure in this cave. Well, obviously now nothing is there but just an old cave.
After wandering around on top for sometime, I decided to explore the best part of the fort – The Vinchukata. Basically, this tail like structure is 1500m extended apart from the main structure of the fort. The structure is at less height than the fort, so you have to descend down to reach the end of the tail. There are steps made to descend down from top of the fort.
I had to walk for about fifteen to twenty minutes to reach the end as I was enjoying the sight around me. After reaching the end you can see the amazing view of the nature, especially in monsoon and winter. In monsoon, mostly the weather is quite cloudy, so there is not much you can see unless the wind clears the clouds and grants you the permission to view.
After enjoying the view, I start back to the base village. While coming down if you look down, you can see the layout of the fort and wonder it’s strong fortification. I reached to the base in an hour and had a cup of tea at the base before I left to home.
Lohagad, basically is a very simple trek. Lot of people visit this fort as a picnic spot with their kids. The trek is very simple and can be done by anyone. The best time to visit the fort is in monsoon or winter as the main attraction of the fort is its view, which it can provide in the two seasons. You can reach the top in 25min if you start from Lohagadwadi and trek continuously. The best part of the fort is Vinchukata – a long structure set 1500m apart from the main fort was used by the rulers to monitor some important trade routes.