About Rajmachi Fort:
Hidden in Sahyadri Mountains, Rajmachi Fort trek is one of the popular places to visit near Mumbai and one of the best places to visit near Pune. If you are looking for a place where you can experience nature at its best, this is your spot.
This trek blesses you with lush green forest, numerous waterfalls, deep valleys, beautiful fort and much more. The most amazing fact about this fort is that you do not need to have any trekking experience to complete this trek. Yes, it is that easy.
If you are looking for an weekend getaway from the mechanical and tiring week, this is the best place to visit in Lonavala. I personally have visited this place thrice in different seasons – to experience the nature in all three seasons, and it has never failed to amaze me.
The fort, the flora around is lavishing and peaceful. Although, if I had to choose the best time to visit this place, I would choose monsoon – from June to September. I planned the trek in the month of July because, the rain is at the best in this month and the route exhibits a waterfall after every step you take.
Rajmachi was built during reign of Satavahanas. Historically, Rajmachi was a strategic fort to control Bhor Ghat, the trade routes between Khopoli and Khandala. This citadel was captured by Shivaji Maharaj from Adilshah, ruler of Bijapur in 1657. From 1704 to 1705, it was under the Mughals, before Marathas regained it’s control.
How to reach Rajmachi:
The fort can be reached by two routes. First is from Karjat and second is from Khandala. I would suggest taking the Khandala route, because it is easier and the hike is awesome surrounded by thick green forest and waterfalls if visited from June to September.
How to reach Lohagad from Pune:
- By Train: Lonavala is nearest railway station to reach Rajmachi fort. Lonavala is one of the busiest railway station as many outstation trains stops here. Once you are at Lonavala station you can hire a taxi or private cab or even walk to reach Rajmachi fort. Local fare upto Lonavala is thirty six rupees and it is a ninety minutes journey.
- By Road: From Pune to Rajmachi fort use Mumbai-Pune Expressway till Lonavala. From Lonavala head towards Fanasrai > Valvand and reach Udhewadi which is a starting point for Rajmachi fort trek. For bikers, you have to use Old Pune - Mumbai Highway. After crossing Lonavala railway station, you get a turn which leads you to Della Adventure Park in Kune village. You can follow that same road to reach Rajmachi Fort. The Kune village road has an amazing spot which I will share in further blog.
How to reach Lohagad from Mumbai:
- By Train: Take a train to Lonavala station from Mumbai. Train fare is approximately one hundred and forty rupees and it is a two hours journey from Mumbai. From Lonavala you can hire taxi or cab or even walk to reach the Rajmachi Fort.
- By Road: From Mumbai to Rajmachi fort head towards Panvel and use Mumbai-Pune Expressway till Lonavala. From Lonavala head towards Nandgaon > Fanasrai > Valvand > Udhewadi and reach Rajmachi fort. You can also follow the same directions as mentioned for Pune's and go by Kune Village route.
Trek to Rajmachi Fort:
Reaching Kune Village:
We started from Pune at seven in the morning towards Lonavala on our bikes. We had a heavy breakfast on the way as there aren’t any stalls available on the hiking route where you can get some good food. But you get some snacks like bhajji or maggi, but it is too expensive.
It took us almost two hours to reach Lonavala from where we started this adventurous trek. The route from Khandala starts from Kune village. A prominent landmark in this village is The Della Adventure Park. The road up to the resort is in good condition. Once we crossed the resort the route was a mud-route mixed with rocks.
It is difficult to drive a vehicle through this route but we saw few vehicles pass by so we also drove further. The view was amazing of the scenery on the way and as expected, there were lots of waterfalls.
After riding for a couple of kilometers, we came across a diversion. This is the most confusing part of the entire trek when you return back. If you went with the flow of the road, you will get lost like we did and the road is the worst on that route. We somehow managed to get out of that loop but PLEASE BE AWARE OF THAT DIVERSION.
Kataldhara: The Hidden Waterfall
Remember, I promised to share an amazing spot earlier? Well, here it is, after driving for about five kilometers we reached Kataldhara waterfall. This waterfall is one of biggest waterfall in this region and Oh my God! it is jaw dropping.
Lot of adventure seekers visits the place for activities such as water-repelling etc. Kataldhara also known as Horse-Shoe waterfall is a not so famous because it is difficult to reach the valley and needs experience in water-repelling before exploring the beautiful place at the end of the waterfall but still the waterfall is worth appraising.
The Hike to Udhewadi:
We took a break for few minutes at Kataldhara to take some pictures of the amazing waterfall and set out further for Rajmachi Fort. We came across a bridge built over a small waterfall. This spot is usually filled with people in monsoon, but if you go in winter the spot is rather vacant and you can have a free fish pedicure – yes, small fishes biting off your nails and all.
The route further got so worse that we were convinced that we would not be able to ride our bikes any further and so just like that we killed our biking enthusiasm and parked our bikes beside a small tea stall near that waterfall and proceeded further route on foot.
The hiking route passes completely through forest surrounded by hills and mountains. There are waterfalls falling from the mountains, the view is so beautiful and pleasant you will not know how time passes by.
The hike is eighteen kilometers from Kune village, so make sure you carry a lot of water or you might get dehydrated. After walking for several minutes, we reached a Hanuman temple which symbolizes the start of Rajmachi village.
Trek to Rajmachi Fort:
After walking for about two hours, we finally reached the foot of the fort. Both the forts have same pathway to reach. You will find a pathway that leads you to the forts. There is also a board name “Kille Rajmachi” in Marathi at the start of the pathway.
Recently the fort has been taken under Government of Maharashtra and have started collecting an entry fee of 10rs each member for maintaining the fort’s cleanliness etc. So we took our ticket and started our trek.
The trek is very simple and safe now after they have built stairs of stone. While walking, you can see some caves carved on your left. This was probably the places used for resting the cattle and horses.
The route splits after reaching a Bhairavnath temple which is located in middle of the two forts. From the temple one path goes towards Shriwardhan Ballekilla and other path will take you to Rajmachi fort. Shriwardhan fort is pretty much destroyed during British reign and there is practically nothing worth watching left up there, so we marched towards Rajmachi Fort.
The path is made of steps made from rocks. Beware that you wear shoes whose sole have good grip because if you slip and fall by mistake it will make your face burst open. The trek from Bhairavnath temple to the fort is short but tiring as the rocks are placed at height more than normal steps.
When we reached the entrance of the fort, the main door was completely destroyed. Although some parts of the entrance are still standing, but it’s difficult to get complete idea of what it exactly symbolizes. As we walked inside further, we saw a huge reservoir of water and a temple on the other side of the reservoir. We looked up and we noticed it was just the entrance and the trek was not completed. The top of the fort was further ahead.
It took us further fifteen minutes from entrance to reach the top of the fort. There is a flag pole at the highest point of the fort where you can see an orange flag – of Maratha community – dancing in the air.
We sat there for nearly half an hour admiring Mother Nature and how beautiful the view was and were convinced that all the efforts we took to reach the fort was worth it. There is a man up there who sells lemonade, we had a glass of lemonade and took some pictures of surrounding.
It took us approximately half an hour to explore the entire fort as there is a different view from every end of the fort.
Night Trek to Rajmachi:
The trek to Rajmachi is even amazing when done at night. Lot of trekkers and campers prefer doing this trek at night and they have a very good reason to do so. In winter, at night the trek route is lightened by thousands of fireflies.. Yes! Fireflies.. It’s almost like walking in Pandora except for Pandora is a made-up place and this is for real.
Camping at Rajmachi:
You can camp almost anywhere you like on the entire trek route. I noticed camp tents at every ten minute walk, so I assumed that the area is very much safe to camp wherever you like and gaze at the meadows all night long. If you do not have camping equipments, the local villagers provide rooms on rent.
Rajmachi Fort trek is one of the most amazing trek I have been to and I can't wait to visit this beautiful place again because of the beautiful nature the trek has got to offer. The trek is very easy and can be done by beginners too.
It takes about four hours to reach the top of the fort so carry lot of water and wear good shoes. The fort is preferred for camping by lot of people seeking a weekend getaway from their tiring work week. If you seek all the above you should definitely start planning for this trek.