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Kokankada, Harishchandra gad & Taramati peak - A dream climb


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Due to pandemic we have taken at most care like,

-          Used personal car for all drive.

-          Used face mask and sanitizers wherever required.

-          Planned travel on weekdays and believe me it was worth.

My companion in travel.

-      Maruti Ertiga. Due to bad road conditions avoided travel by my Baleno

-       Smartphone Poco f1 & Redmi K20 pro

-       Canon 1300d              

Difficulty level: We choose easiest route via Pachnai village.

-       Not suitable for people with heart and breathing problem.

-       Kids who is fit can do this trek.

-       Don’t Carry heavy luggage. A advice from me.

Road conditions:

-       I travelled from Sangamner, hence took below route

-       Sangamner – Rajur – Pachnai        

-       Roads were bad to worst during this drive. Car with less GC should avoid this.

 Best time to visit:

-       Throughout the year once can visit this place. Again it is based on the trek route  

 

Special thanks to Chaitanya Kale my Brother in law. He lives in Sangamner and is experienced trekker. Done many summit in Sayadri range including highest peak Kalsubai. This trek was impossible without his support and planning.

 

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Partner in dream climb

 

I have done this trek on 29 & 30th Dec 2020. Purchased trekking related items a week before (trekking shoes is must). Checked time availability of my Brother in law Chaitanya for this trek. Harishachandra gad is 2 hrs drive from it. I choose Pachnai route being easiest one.

I couldn't sleep with the excitement of going to the first overnight trek of my life.

 

Next day, I woke up early morning, and packed our stuff.

Essential things to carry

- 2 Ltr water per person & light snaks. Don’t carry more, water and food available at peak.

- Good trek shoes (a must have).

- Sleeping bags. Tents and mats available at peak. Sometime they offer blankets but only during non-peak time.

- Rain gears during monsoon.

- Jio simcard. No other network has coverage there.

- Sunglasses and full body cloths + extra pair of cloths.

- Tourch

 

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It was around 11 a.m. we reached base Pachnai village. We took breakfast during travel hence decided to start trek. The route is a straightforward one and carries slim chances of one getting lost. After a 2 ½ hour trek from the dense vegetation and crossing innumerable small streams, we reached Harishchandreshwar temple which was our first stop of the day. Guide not required for this route as it is very visible and one can do it easily. While planning we received local contact and they provided us tent and food. Food was Maharashtrian homemade and was very delicious. For tent they change Rs 150 per person and for food it is same Rs 150. For 2 members the cost was Rs 950 including next day breakfast and 5 water bottle.

 

 

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We ate lunch and took rest till 03:30 PM (alcohol & non Veg strictly prohibited on fort) . Then we started for Kokankada. It was easy trek on flat surface and took 30 min to reach.

 

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We reached Kokankada only to discover that the valley full of fog. 1 hour had passed by and still there was no sign of fog to clear. Due to time constraints it was decided that there was no point waiting and decided heading back to the campsite. Obviously We were quite depressed and was not willing to go back without catching the glimpse of the might Kokankada. The further description would sound a bit filmy, but yes it actually happened. We stood to go back to the campsite and....suddenly wind changed its direction and started blowing from leftwards to rightwards.... which ideally pushed forward the cloud from the valley and in around 10-15 seconds the cliff and the valley could be seen clearly.

 

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Here it was the mighty Kokankada! There was a panic of photographers and trekkers to watch and capture the beautiful Kokankada. To get the complete and proper view of Kokankada one should go the extreme right where there is a small descend. The view was simply mind-blowing and I won't be forgetting throughout my life. It was goddamn lucky of us to catch the glimpse of this terrific place. This magnificent spot is the main reason for attracting me to this heaven.

 

We then headed back to the campsite and decided to close the day. Chaitanya advised to have Taramati peak climb next morning. Even though we were exhausted we decided to climb it ‘Abhi nahi to kabhi nahi’.

 

 

Woke up around 04:30 in morning. Took a guide. Guide is must for this part of trek. Done trek for 1 hour and reached Taramati peak by 6.

 

 

 

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Our campsite in full moon.

 

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Hureeeeee I climbed 3rd highest peak of Maharashtra. This was satisfying. We waited for 1 hour and witnessed the most beautiful sunrise. Took photos and reached campsite by 9.

 

Took breakfast and conveyed thanks to hotel owner. I request travellers not to bargain with them for food and stay. Really these people are helping us in such a remote location. Came to base village pachnai in 1 ½ hour and headed for sweet home.

 

For more photos and update follow me on insta @nomadic_mit 

 

Harishchandragad

Is a hill fort in the Ahmednagar district of India. Its history is linked with that of Malshej Ghat, kothale village and it has played a major role in guarding and controlling the surrounding region.

History

The fort is quite ancient. Remnants of Micro lithic man have been discovered here. The various Puranas (ancient scriptures) like Matsyapurana, Agnipurana and Skandapurana include many references about Harishchandragad. Its origin is said to have been in the 6th century, during the rule of Kalachuri dynasty. The citadel was built during this era. The various caves probably have been carved out in the 11th century. In these caves are idols of Lord Vishnu. Though the cliffs are named Taramati and Rohidas, they are not related to Ayodhya. Great sage Changdev (one who created the epic Tatvasaar), used to meditate here in the 14th century. The caves are from the same period. The various constructions on the fort and those existing the surrounding region point to the existence of diverse cultures here. The carvings on the temples of Nageshwar (in Khireshwar village), in the Harishchandreshwar temple and in the cave of Kedareshwar indicate that the fort belongs to the medieval period, since it is related to mahadeva as a totem of tribes Mahadev Koli. They were controlling the fort before Moguls. Later the fort was under the control of Moguls. The Marathas captured it in 1747.

 

Notable Places of Interest

 

Saptatirtha Pushkarni:

To the east of the temple is a well-built lake called “Saptatirtha”. On its bank are temple-like constructions in which there are idols of Lord Vishnu. Recently these idols have been shifted in the caves near the temple of Harishchandreshwar. These days many trekkers have been responsible for the sad plight of this place, as they throw plastic wastes and other things in the pond. Few years back the water was potable, and now it isn't suitable even to swim. (However, this water is so cold in summer that you can actually feel like you are standing in a refrigeration unit.)

 

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Kedareshwar Cave

Towards the right of Harishchandreshwar temple, there is the huge cave of Kedareshwar, in which there is a big Shiva Linga, which is completely surrounded by water. Its height from the base is five feet, and the water is waist-deep. It is quite difficult to reach the Shiva Linga because the water is ice-cold. There are sculptures carved out in the cave. In the monsoon it is not possible to reach this cave, as a huge stream flows across the way. Actually this is the origin of River Mangalganga.

As can be seen from the picture, there is a huge rock above the Shiva Linga. There were four pillars built around the Shiva Linga to support the cave.

Another interesting thing about this place is that water seeps into this temple from the four walls on an everyday basis. And owing to the water being very cold, it's difficult to reach inside too. The water continues to seep in during all the seasons during the year. During rainy season the water level in those cave becomes almost waist high.

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KokanKada

This cliff faces west and looks down upon the Konkan. It provides views of the surrounding region. The cliff has an overhang, but has been climbed many times. Sometimes a circular rainbow (the Brocken spectre phenomenon) can be seen from this point. It can be seen only when there is a bit of mist in the valley, and the sun is right behind the person facing the valley. One phenomenon that can be observed at this place is the vertical cloud burst, in which the clouds nearing the cliff get sucked into the pit fall area below and are thrown vertically into the sky reaching more than 50 feet (15 m), creating the impression of a wall that is rising straight from the edge of the cliff without entering the landmass area. If you happen to visit this place in April-May, then throw your panama cap from the cliff and enjoy it rising high and falling back on the plateau.

Taramati peak

Also known as Taramanchi. This is the top most point on the fort (1429 meters). Leopards are seen in the forests beyond this peak. From here we can have a glimpse of the whole range of Naneghat and the forts near Murbad. From this Taramati point, we can have a glimpse of forts till Siddhagad near Bhimashankar in the south and Napta twin peaks, Ghodishep (865 meters), Ajoba (1375 meters), Kulang fort (1471 meters) in the north near the Kasara region.

Temple of Harishchandreshwar

This temple is marvellous example of the fine art of carving sculptures out of stones that prevailed in ancient India. It is about 16 m high from its base. Around this temple there a few caves & ancient water tanks. The river Mangal Ganga is said to originate from one of the tanks located close to the temple. The top of the temple resembles construction with the north-Indian temples. A similar temple is situated in Buddha-Gaya. Here we can see many tombs, in which a typical construction is seen. These are built by well-finished arranging stones one on top of the other. There are three main caves near the temple. The cisterns near the temple provide drinking water. A short distance away, another temple called Kashitirtha is located. The fascinating thing about this temple is that it has been carved out from a single huge rock. There are entrances from all four sides. On the main entrance there are sculptures of faces. These are faces of guards of the temple. On the left side of the entrance is a Devsnagsri inscription, which is about saint Changdev.

 

 

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ROUTE TO HARISHCHANDRAGAD

Harishchandragad is accessible from Thane, Pune and Ahmednagar. Harishchandragad Fort can be reached via various routes from different places.  Below are the travel routes from different cities.
 

HOW TO REACH HARISHCHANDRAGAD FROM MUMBAI

1) Khireshwar (Tolar Khind, Rajmarga)

Mumbai - Kalyan - Khubi phata- Khireshwar

 

1.            Catch a local going towards Kalyan (on Central Line). Get down at Kalyan Station.

2.             The ST depot is just besides the station on the west side. Catch any ST going towards Alephata (strictly going via Malshej Ghat)

3.             Ask the ST conductor for a ticket of Khubi Phata. Khubi Phata is just 5 mins after the Malshej Ghat ends.

4.             Get down at Khubi Phata and start walking on the 6 km long dam that just starts besides the road.

5.            Lucky you, if you get a jeep or something, or just keep walking (a good warmup :p ) Once you reach the base village Khireshwar, the actual trek for Harishchandragad starts !!!


2) Belpada (Nalichi vaat, Rajmarga, Sadhleghat)

Mumbai - Kalyan - Savarne- Belpada

Mind it, this is a very tough route and not at all recommended for freshers !

 

1.             Follow the previous (via Khireshwar) instructions till point number 2.

2.             Ask the ST conductor for a ticket of Savarne. Savarne comes just before the start of Malshej Ghat.

3.            The straight 1 hour walk from Savarne takes you to the base village Belpada (now Walivare)

4.            From Belpada, the trek to Harishchandragad via Nalichi vaat or Rajmarga or Sadhleghat begins!  

 

HOW TO REACH HARISHCHANDRAGAD FROM PUNE

1.             Catch an ST from Pune towards Alephata.

2.             Get down at Alephata & catch another ST moving for Kalyan (strictly going via Malshej Ghat).

3.             To trek Harishchandragad via Tolar Khind (Khireshwar), get down at Khubi Phata. Khubi Phata comes just before the Malshej Ghat.

4.             To trek Harishchandragad via Nalchi Vaat, Rajmarga or Sadhleghat, get down at Savarne. Savarne arrives just after the end of Malshej Ghat

Below is the brief description, easy to understand
Pune - Ale phata - Khubi phata - Khireshwar
Pune - Ale phata - Savarne - Belpada

HARISHCHANDRAGAD VIA PACHNAI

One has to board the bus for Nasik or Mumbai & alight at Ghoti village. From Ghoti, we have to board another bus to Sangamner via Malegaon & alight at Rajur village. From here, 2 ways diverge to the fort.
1) From Rajur, one has to board the bus or a private vehicle to the village of Pachanai. From here, the way is straight to the topmost point.
2) Recently, the way from Rajur to Tolar Khind has been made available. From Tolar Khind (Tolar valley), the temple is about 2-3 hours by walking.

Reaching Pachnai from Mumbai is fairly difficult as one has to change several buses and loses a lot of time in transit. If one is approaching from Pune/ Nashik, one can reach Pachnai from either Rajur, Kotul, Akole or Sangamner.

 

View from Pachnai village

 

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Way to Harishchandra gad

 

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Following are the five trek routes to Harishchandragad

Route 1: Tolar Khind
After getting down at Khubi phata, one has to take a 4-5 km walk on the wall of the dam called Khireshwar dam. The dam ends at Khireshwar village, and from here onwards a straight route trail goes towards Tolar khind.Around 2-2.5 hours are required to reach till Tolar khind from Khireshwar village. The end of the khind has a stone carving of a lion, symbolising that it is protecting the pass. After the khind, is a 100 feet rock patch, which has iron railings for the safety of trekkers. There is no need for any kind of special trekking gear at all like ropes, etc to climb it. The climb on the rock patch then leads a straight way to Harishchandreshwar temple, with small hills & streams in between.

Route 2: Nalichi Vaat
Nalichi vaat is the most difficult route to Harishchandragad. One has to start from the Belpada village and begin the climb parallel to the huge Konkan Kada. To the left of Konkan Kada are 3-4 channels that come down from the top. The channel to the extreme right is the Nalichi vaat.

Nalichi vaat is a tricky route having a 80 degree ascents at some points and the toughest rock patches. Here, trekking gear is required to ascend the rock patches as sometimes there is no slit available for having a grip. Hence, route is recommended strictly for the experienced trekkers.

Route 3 : Rajmarga
Rajmarga, which is currently in bad condition, was the main route to ascend Harishchandragad a long back. This route follows the same path till Khireshwar village. From here, instead of following the way to Tolar Khind,one must go along the straight path and start ascending on the slopes of Kalshya dongar (ask any villager for the route to Kalshya dongar). The cliff that comes after the Kalshya dongar has to be ascended. The climb has rock crumbling and lot of scree with dangerous patches in between. After this tricky ascent, one joins the Tolar khind route after the rock patch.

Route 4: Sadle Ghat
Sadhle ghat is a steep descent from the fort down to the base. To approach Harishchandragad via this route, one has to walk straight to Kelewadi from Belpada instead of going towards Konkan Kada. From Kelewadi village onwards, an ascend via the steep slope of Sadhle Ghat brings you on the top. It is best to descend from Harishchandragad via Sadhle Ghat instead of ascending it.

Route 5: Pachnai
Pachnai is the simplest route to Harishchandragad and absolutely recommended for anyone of any age. From the Pachnai village, it takes around 2.5-3 hours to reach Harishchandragad. A guide is available at the Pachnai village if required.

FOOD AND STAY

A few villagers from Paachnai village make food and tent arrangements at the top of the fort. The meal includes bhakri, bhaaji, daal, bhat, etc. along with snacks such as kanda bhaji, pohe, tea, etc. They stay in a couple of huts near Harishchandreswar temple.

 

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On 1/12/2021 at 11:03 PM, shiva said:

Thank you for sharing. Camping at such place would be dream for me. Do we need any permissions? 

We don't need permission. We can have our own tent or there are few local people who provides it. Locals are very friendly

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1 minute ago, mit1682 said:

We don't need permission. We can have our own tent or there are few local people who provides it. Locals are very friendly

Ah great, that would be perfect setup. Looks like you guys had lot of fun. :)

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1 minute ago, shiva said:

Ah great, that would be perfect setup. Looks like you guys had lot of fun. :)

Ya it was mine dream climb and first trek after so many years. Credit goes to my brother in law. He planned and executed it. Best time is to visit on weekdays. Weekend there will be mad rush. Planning few more climbs

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Wow, Beautiful log @mit1682. I felt so nostalgic after going through your story.. Could recollect a lot of memories during my exploration trek.

I had done this exploring a new route via Junnardarwaza in 2011.. It was surely an experience never to forget. 

We stayed in a small cave with the locals while they prepared dinner for us. Observed a few mysterious things at this place. Started out midnight trek to around 2 AM to reach the Taramati peak for the sunrise. 
I shall share a few pictures of this 

 

 

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20 hours ago, sagar said:

Wow, Beautiful log @mit1682. I felt so nostalgic after going through your story.. Could recollect a lot of memories during my exploration trek.

I had done this exploring a new route via Junnardarwaza in 2011.. It was surely an experience never to forget. 

We stayed in a small cave with the locals while they prepared dinner for us. Observed a few mysterious things at this place. Started out midnight trek to around 2 AM to reach the Taramati peak for the sunrise. 
I shall share a few pictures of this 

 

 

1727C66B-78BC-484D-BA2E-38314A04B455.jpeg.cdef28835af1e1eac92e173481c2d495.jpeg
 

C7AFBF5A-7347-4AB0-96AD-EE0C2EEBD987.jpeg.9c1d5b3d8e7caaeb546b2aa67618f521.jpeg

 

4B2DA511-C061-4C24-80CD-122C7B52A7AD.jpeg.da87c153920410dce22b11a698a3d977.jpeg

 

81CF3C4E-3CDA-432E-9123-83E66B81D042.jpeg.30429ced127669a54b048054221f9084.jpeg

 

6A7BCCC1-A9E3-488C-9FFE-E397976F5F3E.jpeg.32b5d0c325fc5e4f1ceeed49a1e501da.jpeg

 

FC6AEEAB-10C8-4C7E-9F5B-EE14BADF1A59.jpeg.018dff66bd50bb3241965f54c57ad766.jpeg

 

B2F5301E-F474-42A9-9E88-C8FE4572AC2D.jpeg.b3705edceb7e30be235a324b77e5f479.jpeg

 

FCF92252-F4A9-4394-8F19-830390E8FD9E.jpeg.748dea1abb5a144a411624bc5152e10d.jpeg

 

6E52AF2D-4F2C-4DF5-9DD9-7931E4182C46.jpeg.6fe7c44466c63ef72dc95e7417040cc3.jpeg

 

F0BDB63C-F2F6-43D5-AF79-45464F812430.jpeg.46dc6e3826439039b7472c9d971fed49.jpeg

 

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D8550568-F8F6-4900-8A67-86E6B468DAD4.jpeg.ac8ec90b8bf19474ef90a56e6919adbc.jpeg

 

DAD5616F-9143-45E0-AC66-72A378B3BF20.jpeg.f31f7238fd049a826023169a14ae411b.jpeg

Wow amazing photos. I think this route also called as nalichi vat. This place is magical.

 

 

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4 hours ago, mit1682 said:

Wow amazing photos. I think this route also called as nalichi vat. This place is magical.

 

 


Nalichivaat is again a different route. I had done Nalichivaat during the monsoon which I felt has been my most toughest treks so far. During this exploration trek, we fell short of clues on the route as there wouldn’t be any signals either, We got saved by a dog who guided us in reaching the top most point until our base back the next day. Turned out to be a mysterious experience in many ways. Thanks a lot for sharing your log and rewinding my memory lane.. Cheers!

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      The entry gate of the Chincholi forest was very welcome


      Though it was a mud track beyond the gate, the drive was smooth and fun.

       
      The track will is pretty narrow to just fit in 1 car at a time



      Our first pit stop was a small temple enroute amidst the Chincholi forest

       

       
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      • 31 replies
    • Hyderabad Weekend Getaways under 200 kilometers
      Weekend getaways
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      • 67 replies
    • Road trip in Electric Vehicle, San Francisco to Los Angeles
      Sharing a road trip experience in Tesla, will be update this log on daily basis(Three days trip). 
      This is not a leisure travel, We had to go on a work trip from SF to LA.
      I will be sharing road trip experience in EV with Pros and Cons when compared with ICE cars.

       
      Car Specifications:
      Range: 600 kilometers per charge (EPA) 0-100: 3.8 Seconds Top speed is limited to 250km/hr  Supports upto Level-3 charging : 250KW/hr Will be sharing more information on Tesla Super chargers in the upcoming posts  
      A day before the trip
       
      Planning:
      Road trips in electric cars need some planning when compared to traditional(ICE) cars. 
       
      STEP 1: 
      You can use Tesla website to plan your trip, Select the car that you are planning to take on a drive Check out the website for fun : https://www.tesla.com/trips SF to LA has close to 10+ Tesla super chargers(Distance : 600+ kilometers)
       
      STEP 2: 
      Calculate total charging time required, you can check Tesla website to understand your trip plan Total charging time required on a 616 kilometers trip is 55 minutes Details given above are in ideal conditions: 90% charge before you start, follow speed limits, no opposite wind, no cold weather(below 0C), no snow storm etc In real world, range varies, this is similar to our ARAI mileage Tesla calculates/displays range based on EPA(ARAI), add 15~20% range error All the Tesla Chargers are located close to some of the best food courts/restrooms  Total saving for the trip when compared with gas cars is 52$
       
      If you have any queries comment below, will answer them.
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      • 5 replies
    • Ola mega electric factory, can produce 30 EV's per minute
      Product capacity 20 lakhs two wheelers per year 500 Acers 10,000 jobs, you can apply here (https://olaelectric.com/) 10 production lines Will produce an EV every 2 seconds First Indian electric two-wheeler company to begin international exports
       
      Key Specs:
      100 kilometers per charge Top speed 100km/hr  
      Check out the video:
       
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      • 1 reply
    • New e-Pass Requirements by States (March 2021 onwards)
      Hi all,
      I wanted to create the list of states re-imposing e-pass requirements to travel, including  by road.
      Here's what I found. Please add to the list and also once it is lifted, please update the thread.
      I hope it will be helpful
       
      Tamil Nadu
      Dated 9-Mar-2021
      All passengers coming by road and by flight to Tamil Nadu need an e-pass, the state government has decided, in a slew of new rules for domestic and international passengers coming to the state. All passengers from states, except Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Puducherry, need an e-pass to enter the state. 
      https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/passengers-coming-tamil-nadu-need-e-pass-here-s-how-apply-144882
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      • 14 replies
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