Have you ever experienced rains miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city? Have you ever got drenched in the lush green surroundings and the chocolaty mud? Have you ever been above the clouds or have watched the clouds rushing towards you and making you feel lost in some dreamy blurry world?If this dreamy description is exactly what you wish for then just pack your bag and leave for the Rajmachi fort trek during any monsoon weekend and it will ensure the everlasting memories of your life.
Here is the complete guide for first time trekkers:
How to reach: (from Mumbai)
Option 1: Karjat Route
Reach Karjat by any train which runs till Karjat in central line. Take bus\an auto\a tumtum to reach Kondivade village. Trek till Rajmachi fort via Kondana caves and beautiful waterfalls. It is a shorter but a difficult one; especially during monsoons as the mud becomes too slippery. It might take 4-5 hours to reach the fort through this route. Taking a guide is advisable during off season. Otherwise you would be trekking along with many other trekking groups. So chances of losing your way might reduce.
Option 2: Lonavala Route
This route is comparatively easier but longer. If you wish to enjoy with your family or friends and are not looking for any kind of adventure then you can opt for this route. Take Mumbai-Pune Intercity and get down at Lonavala station.
Get down on the west side of the station.Walk till Lonavala Bus Depot (ask any vendor for the shortcut)As you would keep walking for around 8-10 minutes you would see the depot on your right and a main road in front. You may stop to have breakfast at any of the good restaurants here. Or else just reach the main road and take right to reach Tungrali area. Ask any shopkeeper where to turn for Valvan Dam. Once you reach Valvan Dam, prefer walking on the wall of the dam for a beautiful view. Once you get down from the wall keep walking on the main route.You would come across beautiful view of the distant hills playing hide and seek in the clouds and a few waterfalls and the lush green lunch points. There are many stalls on the way to fulfil the cravings of your taste buds. You can get hot lemon grass tea, samosas, pakoras and bhutta (roasted corn)
- The first diversion is at the junction where the bike/four wheeler route meets the trekking route. It has three routes as shown in the map. You have to walk towards the Rajmachi Fort lane. After walking a while you will come across this small pond/puddle (during monsoon) from where you will take left and climb up.
After walking for around 20-25 minutes a nimbu paani and poha stall on your left would surely grab your attention as it is located at a place which gives a perfect view of the Alushray waterfall.
Take pictures and move up quickly as village is just 10-15 minutes from this point. You would also be able to see the sight of the mighty Shreevardhan Fort right above you.
Reaching the village:
Option 1: If you have reached quite early and you want to leave the same day, then you can take a quick round of Shreevardhan fort and leave by booking taxi. (Booking option available in the village)
Option 2: If you want an overnight stay, you either need to book with Rajmachi Rural Aid and Development Programme (NGO) which has 2 dormitories to provide camping accommodation facilities for trekkers in Udhewadi village at a nominal charge.
Option 3: You can ask for a home stay which will get you in touch with the local culture and lifestyle.
Where to eat:
Option 1: You can either opt to eat in the hotels or stalls in the village or you can order for food at any of the home stays if you wish to eat local homemade food cooked on chulha (stove).
Option 2: You can make a temporary makeshift stove with the help of a few locals and can cook food for yourself. (material will be available in the village if you do not want to carry)
The Village : (Udhewadi)
It is a very small village with only a few number of houses, most of which are converted into home stays during seasons.
Do not expect to get electricity supply as the electricity here is generated only through solar cells which is hardly sufficient even for the villagers. It has a proper drainage system and the water supply is not an issue during monsoons.
It is surrounded by farms, fields, a beautiful lake and a few temples.
What to do in the evening:
- Visit Manranjan Fort: After you have freshen up you can go to Manranjan Fort which is the smaller one of the twin forts and can explore it. Any local would guide you to the path to climb up till Manranjan. Be back before it turns dark unless you have a proper torchlight.
- Udaysagar Lake: Washout all the stress and strain bathing in this beautiful lake. You can sit here till late evening on the bordering walls of the lake as it has a proper path linking to the village.
- The Shiva Temple: It is a wonderfully carved temple of Lord Shiva that will certainly add the spiritual feel to the serene atmosphere near the lake. Spending your evening here will be one of the wonderful moments of your journey. Hence, do not forget to add these places as the ‘must visit’ during your trek.
Bed sheets and the mats are provided by the locals if you have opted for the home stay. But certainly it is optional to sleep at night 😉 If you are fresh enough you can make the village your ‘Ghost Town’, take the torch lights and have fun playing and roaming around with your friends/family.You can also opt to climb up to the fort or can roam around in the outskirts if you wish to do the night trek.
The village is well commercialized due to a great frequency of the trekkers and tourists to this place.
Option 1: You can carry plastic or rubber mats and occupy the caves in the fort as early as possible. You might also have to share it with other trekkers in case your group isn’t big enough.
Option 2: Carry your own tents and set it up at any suitable place near the lake in the forts or in the outskirt of the village.
Option 3: Rent the tents and make them set up the tents wherever you want to. The locals would also help you arrange for the food or the cooking materials if you opt for the same.
Option 4: The tent accommodation is available near the lake site. You can rent the available tents and stay in the same. These campsites also organize adventure activities and other events on demand.
The extreme ends of the fort would quench your thirst of seeing amazing view of the hills, valley and the cloudy sky. It is advisable to go early in the morning as it is not much crowded at this time. You can enter the fort and explore it walking up the right steps of the fort from where you can reach either/both of the following 2 points:
- Extreme right of the fort from where you can see the wonderful view of the Alushray Waterfalls.
- The left end of the fort is comparatively less frequented. In order to reach there you have to reach the entrance of the fort and then climb up the left side.
Note: There isn’t a proper path towards this side of the fort. So you will have to make one of your own.
I am sure you would not be so happy leaving this lovely place or you would surely have the plans of revisiting it in your mind. But the journey will be equally enjoyable if you would take the other route than whichever you have chosen while coming here.
Option 1: Walk back till Lonavala following the same route as mentioned above.
Option 2: Take the route towards Karjat (Kondivade Village) from the back side of the Rajmachi Rural Aid and Development Programme (NGO) dormitories and move down.
Note: During monsoons it is risky (but adventurous) to get down from this route. Wear a proper trekking shoes with good grip. (Quechua 500/600 preferable)
You can stop to have a look at Kondana Caves on the way to Kondivade village. You can also have bath in the river near this village.
Take a sharing auto back to Karjat station.
Option 3: Book a taxi back to Lonavala if you wish to leave early.
The trek will certainly leave you awestruck with the beautiful route and the views from the fort. The village stay will just be an addition to your awesome moments.
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