We started from Mumbai by bus in the night and braced ourselves for a long journey. In the morning, before dawn, we reached the base village – Nirgudpada. It is a picturesque village surrounded on all sides by forts and mountains. Harihar Fort stands distinctively amidst the hills. Watching it from the ground, we wondered how exactly would we climb this monster of a fort ?
We started after having a quick breakfast of home-made onion poha and tea. From the village, it is difficult to find the path as one has to cross many farms before reaching the start of the trail. However, our trek leader was experienced, and we did not have much difficulty. We climbed to the pass in between Fani dongar ( 3255 ft. ) to the left and Harihar to the right. The pinnacle of Fani is nearly 30 ft. long and resembles the hood of a cobra, hence the name. Along the way, we came across a tiny temple and a beautiful pond in front of it. Even though the water was green, it was full of fishes. The group halted here for a long break.
Our trek lead – Vishal, wore a T-shirt of King Sambhaji – the eldest son of the Maratha King Shivaji. During the break, the conversation veered towards the Maratha Empire. King Sambhaji was the successor to the realm after his father Shivaji’s death in 1680. Shivaji planted the seeds of the Maratha Independence movement. His death marked the start of the 27-year long war with the Mughals, that ended with the death of Aurangzeb in March 1707. Indian Subcontinent saw the rise of a new sun – Maratha empire – who ruled large parts of the Indian sub-continent until the arrival of the British East India Company.
After the brief history lesson, we proceeded on our trail. Soon, we reached the base of the mighty rock prism on whose pinnacle stood the Harihar fort. The rock-cut steps lead up the fort and are very steep. We all lined up and started to climb the stairs one below the other. The initial fright gives way to excitement, as we marveled at the views from the height. We climbed nearly 100 stairs to reach the first gate – Mahadarwaja, then walked below an overhang, and continued further on another flight of winding stairs, to reach the second entrance door. This opens onto a plateau. It has two small temples of Lord Hanuman and Lord Shiva and a pond with potable drinking water. We sat here to have our lunch.
Post lunch, we explored the fort. There is a tiny hump in the middle, which is the highest point on the fort. We climb up, soak in the views and click photos. After some time we made our way down as it was getting crowded. We explored the back side of the fort which has 5 cisterns. It tapers down providing spectacular views of the Shayadris range and the valley below. We walked along the edge that faces the base village – Nirgudapada. This edge is named “Scottish Kada” after Doug Scott who was the first person to climb the edge in 1986.
A successful Finish:
Spending over 2 hours on top of the fort, it was time to climb down. The steep staircase made everyone a bit anxious before the descend. However, slowly, everyone got down comfortably to the bottom of the rock. We waited for everyone to come down the stairs before continuing on our trail to get back to the base village. In another hour or so, we walked back down to the base bringing an end to an exhilarating trek to Harihar.
Afterward, at Nirgudapada, while everyone changed, and had snacks, Bhavini and I decided to explore the surroundings. We walked down along the single road, and soon we were out of the village. Bhavini, carried her shoes in her hands as she had shoe bites. We walked along, hand in hand, wondering what the future had in store for us. We didn’t know yet whether we would be married or not but we knew that someday we both would come back to this beautiful place.
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This blog was originally published on Shoe Bytes. To get more travel stories on India and info on us, please visit our website or Like our Facebook Page.Our group with Trek Lead - Vishal