This was probably my ninth or tenth visit to Lohagad (view on Google Maps). This is the place where I started trekking around ten years ago.
Nothing was planned as such for the trek. Me and my family had planned for a weekend outing to Talegoan at my aunts place. I had taken a leave on Friday so as to get an extended weekend. We left home at around 7:00 in the morning. The drive on the expressway was amazing. The rain god was in his full glory.
Lohgad is around 5 kms from Malawli station, which is just ahead of lonavla. It is an easy trek. Ideal for amateur trekkers like me. As our car was passing through Malawli we saw Lohgad on our right side. A thought of a trek brushed my mind. Immediately after reaching Talegoan, I asked my wife, Sangeeta about the trek. She agreed!! Hurray..
So next day i.e 18th June, both of us started our trek at 8:00. We took a local train from Talegoan to malawli. From there after a walk of around half hour we reached Bhaja village. The climate was quite pleasant with mild showers at regular intervals. There is a small waterfall near the foothills of Lohgad. We spent some time at the waterfall before proceeding further. We started our way up the fort. A fortnight of rain had changed the surroundings considerably. The lush green carpets were quite soothing for eyes. After around an hour or so, we reached the Lohgad village. It has been a ritual for me to come over here and have Pohe. We found a small tapri, where a small girl took the food order. We had asked for Pohe and chai. Unlike normal hotels, people do not cook food in bulk. They do it per order. We were asked to wait for around 15-20 mins before her mother can make the foodstuff. In the meantime it had started raining heavily. Having Garam Garam Pohe & Chai in that drenched surrounding was a wonderful experience.
This is the point from where we had to climb steps to reach the fort. Previously, Malawli was the only route to reach Lohgad. But now there is another route from Lonavla, from where you can even get your car upto Lohgad village. Since the fort is more accessible now there were reasonable numbers of trekkers that day.
Personally, I am not against these roads being built up to the forts. It allows more number of people to visit these historic places of immense importance. More number of people are able to see and feel our glorious past. With more number of visitors, even the local people, most of them are poor villagers, get benefited. They can earn some money by serving the visiting people. But I have always observed that easily accessible forts like Sinhagad, Pratapgad, etc. get more casual visitors, who are least bothered about the forts history. Most of them come there for a days picnic. They litter around these places. Such a disrespect for such important places would definitely not go down well with a true trekker. I have even seen foreigners who come to these places, taking utmost care to keep the place clean. But most of the time it is our people who behave irresponsibly.
Anyways, coming back to our trek, we proceeded further towards the fort. The original fort was built in the 12th Century by Raja Bhoj. Later on it was brought into swaraj by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The steps to the fort were rebuilt during his time. The location of the fort had strategic significance because travelers/traders from the deccan plateau used this route to travel to kalyan. The fort has multiple levels of fortification. Interestingly most of the fortification is still intact and in good shape.
On reaching half way up the forth, we were able to see the Pawana lake behind the fort. So huge is the reservoir that it can actually be seen from three sides of the fort. There are a couple of caves in between, which ideally must have been used as store house. Like most other forts on the sahyadri, you will find large number of monkeys over here. They follow us if we carry foodstuff in our hand. It took around 30-40 mins for us to reach the top of the fort. On the top, there is a small dargah just in front of the entrance.
Since it was raining heavily, at times the visibility was hardly a few meters. We were traversing along the boundary of the fort. At one point there was stream of water flowing down the forts wall. But as the wind was blowing against us, the water was flowing back again giving an impression of a waterfall flowing in reverse direction. After roaming for some more time, we reached a huge well. This well, it is said does not dry up even in the summer season. Finally we reached the other end of the fort. From here there is a long machi extending towards the Expressway. This machi is famously known as Vinchukata, The most known point on Lohgad.
After this point we started our way back home. It took us around an hour to reach malawli. On our way back we tried getting Zunka-bhakar (Zunka-Bhakar was the staple food of Mawlas) to eat as it is a perfect combination for such place. But since the tapri walas cook food only on orders, they didn’t had it ready for us. Sangeeta, even after walking so much, was full of enthusiasm . In fact there was a sense of achievement on her face too. We reached home by 3:30. A bit tired, but with sense of fulfillment. Mission Lohagad accomplished! One more time, hopefully not the last time.!