An infectious vibe, buzzing nightlife and low cost of living all come together to make Pune one of those cities that nobody would ever want to leave. However, as they say, a fun and exciting weekend getaway never hurt anyone! So if you’re in Pune and looking for a weekend getaway that’s not Lavasa, Kamshet and Lonavala, you’ve landed up at just the right place.
Located at a distance of about 550km from Pune, a trip to Narnala is like going back in time. The ancient fort dates back to the 10th Century AD and is named after the Rajput ruler Narnala Singh. The hill fortress, in its current form, stands majestically in the dense forests of Melghat Tiger Reserve, making for a perfect getaway option for Punekars looking to disconnect and go offbeat.
Here’s everything you need to know about planning a trip to Narnala Fort.
Why travel to Narnala
The very fact that Narnala is completely off-grid and away from mainstream tourism scene makes it an explorer’s delight. Here are some of the top things you can do in and around Narnala:
1. Trek up the fort
An architectural wonder in its own right, the Narnala Fort is believed to have been built during the reign of the Pandavas in 1400CE. The expansive structure has been under the rule of several rulers which makes it a must visit for every history fanatic. Trekking up the fort makes for one of the top activities to do if you are in the region. If trekking is not your thing, the fort also has a motorable road which leads all the way up to the main entrance.
2. Spend some time by the Shakar Talav
The Narnala Fort houses some exciting tourist attractions which includes an ancient Queen’s Palace and a mosque. However, it is the Shakar Talav, a small lake on the top of the fort which attracts the maximum number of visitors. The waters of the lake are considered to be magical and legend has it that it can instantly cure wounds inflicted from dog bites!
3. Go tiger spotting in Melghat Tiger Reserve
Located at a distance of 50km from the fort, Melghat Tiger Reserve is one of the best places in the country to spot wild cats. In addition, one can also spot several rare varieties of flora and fauna in the protected area. Put on your explorer shoes and dive deep into the dense jungles of Melghat for a tryst with the wild!
4. Visit a cotton plantation in Akola
If you’re heading to Narnala and looking for a truly offbeat experience, this is it! 70km from the fort, lies the city of Akola – the biggest cotton producing district of India and a hub for higher education in the state. Visit a cotton plantation here, take a tour and learn the about the entire process of cultivation and cotton harvest. Trust me when I say this, you will not regret this!
When to go
Though Narnala makes for the perfect year-round weekend getaway option, the period between October and January is the best. The rains subside in this window and there is a slight chill in the air.
Here’s how you can get to Narnala from Pune:
By road: This is hands down the best way to travel from Pune to Narnala. Drive on the beautiful and well-maintained NH753A to get to Narnala in about 12 hours (550km).
By train: Alternatively, one can also hop on a train to get to Akola in about 11 hours, the nearest railway station to the fort. Narnala is located at a distance of 70km from Akola railway station, a distance that can be covered in about 2 hours.
Though the entire Narnala region is connected by state run buses, their frequency is quite erratic. It is advisable to have your own vehicle if you’re planning to explore this particular Maharashtrian belt.
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