After trekking for around an hour, we reached the 1st entry point; the Binni Darwaza. There is also an old church at the same point. Note that the Purandar Fort is in the military area and hence has time restrictions from 9 AM to 5 PM. Once you cross the Binni Darwaza, you meet a Tar road which is the same road to drive the vehicle up to the base of the fort. One has to walk for another 500 metres or so from where the steps begin. Along the way, we also saw the Purandeshwar Temple.
We spent a good amount of time at this point and started our descend from the temple. It was around 2 PM and almost the entire fort was covered with clouds. We could hardly see the trails or the valley. We also visited the buruj at the other far end of the fort. During the tea break, luck struck again and I saw a couple of orange coloured birds in one of the trees. It was a pair of Tawny bellied Babbler, another lifer! We also saw parakeets, Jungle Babblers, Greater Coucals and the melodious Malabar Whistling Thrush. We had realized that climbing down would surely not be as easy as climbing up; considering marshy and slippery trails. We decided to look around for short cuts but there weren’t any. Soon we saw a relatively less steep area next to the road and decided to take a chance and look for a trail. We had to make our own way; which only got steeper through the marshy land and bushes which only with no sights of any trails. Soon I spotted a cattle trail which only meant it was even more muddy. We somehow managed to take this trail and suddenly we were greeted with a patch of open land!.. What a relief that was.
After driving for around 20 minutes we got to a place which was open and was serving food (We had skipped lunch). The best part of such trips is that you often get to binge on super delicious homely food and this time it was a sumptuous chicken thali. As we were waiting for lunch to arrive, I heard a pretty strong call of the Tickell’s Blue flycatcher! I was lucky again to get some real good shots of this little blue beauty…
Surely this was one heck of an adventurous trip for me. The feeling was nothing short of an accomplishment, especially due to the return journey. All our assumptions about this trek were completely incorrect, that we would be able to wind-up pretty quick. It does take a good amount of time to explore the fort completely. Add to that the lovely experience of trekking in rains, through the streams and marshy land. Be it the beautiful birds we saw, or the unique trekking experience; this was definitely my best trek till date.How to reach: There are couple options to reach this fort;
1. Via Katraj -> Khapurhol -> Narayanpur -> Purandar. This trek is probably the fastest due to less traffic and wide roads.
2. Via Hadapar -> Dive Ghat -> Saswad -> Narayanur road -> Purandar. This is probably the more picturesque of the two; as you drive through the ghats but at the cost of some extra distance and relatively more traffic.
There is also a third option via Kondwa Budruk, which joins Saswad through the Saswad Bopdev ghat road. I guess this will be pretty similar to the Dive Ghat road.Tips & information:
1. There is no place to eat at the fort, there is only 1 small shop at base of the fort which serves Tea, Pitla Bhakri and Kanda Bhajji.
2. There are no wash rooms at fort or at the base of the fort
2. Military guards ensure you need to return to the base by 4:30 pm so plan your trip accordingly
3. Best time will be immediately after rains, however trekking in rains is a different experience all together. So in-case you are planning a trip in rains, make sure you wear shoes with good grip.
And finally, please do not litter and throw plastics in and around the fort.