Post monsoon is the best time to visit the Mahuli Fort. The trail will be filled with dense vegetation in those seasons. Now it is completely dry. Wild animals are also easy to spot in these areas. In the past, leopards were spotted here frequently and it resulted in the restriction of trekking activities. Luckily, I didn't find any animals other than some monkeys. The first two kilometres of the trail is climbing some rock paved steps and is easy as compared to the remaining path. The first plateau is around 3.8 KM from the starting point. The 1 K.M trail before the first plateau is a little bit adventurous as one needs to climb some rock patches. There is a steep rock patch just below this plateau and is very difficult to climb. But in recent years an iron ladder has been placed to overcome this tricky part of the climb.
Within 2:45 hours of trekking we reached the first plateau. The view from the top is mesmeric. The nearby hills are filled with fog. We were greeted by a breeze. That was the best feeling so far. From here, you can see the starting of famous Bharangi river. Now the river is dry. We sat down here to enjoy the breeze and to capture some snaps of the valley. Then, we continued walking towards Shahpur Darwaza, which 10 minutes away from here. There are 3 small caves near the Shahpur Darwaza. Trekkers used to stay here in these caves which can accommodate around 15 people. Drinking water is also available here. But, I found that the water is really contaminated. From the Shahpur Darwaza, I got the company of another group of trekkers from Mumbai and Pune. They shared lunch with me even though I carried enough dates and peanuts. These are the best moments of solo trekking.
After 30 minutes of the break near the Shapur Darwaza, we started trekking towards the Kalyan Darwaza. There are many remnants of the fort along the trail. Also, there is a small lake on the left side of the trail halfway. Now, the lake is almost dry. But it will be filled with water in monsoon. After walking on the plateau for 45 minutes, we reached a big rock patch of 20 feet. A small ladder is pitched there to climb the first half. After climbing this rock patch, I took around 15 minutes to reach Kalyan Darwaza. The Kalyan Darwaza is the Konkan side entrance to the fort and its access has become difficult since the Britishers blew the stone carved steps. The speciality of this entrance is its location. It is almost impossible to locate this entrance as it has been carved in groves and cuts of the mountain through a huge rock. Since it was destroyed by Britishers, it requires technical expertise to access this portion of the fort. There is a big cave near the Kalyan Darwaza and is filled with water. The water is pure and I filled my bottle here.
I continued walking towards the viewpoint of the 3 famous pinnacles, Navara, Navri, and Bhatoba. The viewpoint is only 5 minutes away from Kalyan Darwaza. The viewpoint is surrounded by valley on three sides. It does not have a clear edge due to its slope and we should be very careful here. I met yet another group of guys from Shahpur at the viewpoint. These guys were really crazy, and I spent some time with them. We returned back to Mahuli by 1:30 PM. The base village is around 6 KM away from here and I took 2.5 hours to reach the bottom. Next, I needed to reach the Mahuli village bus stop which is around 1.5 KM away from the Shiva temple.
The next bus to Shahpur was at 5 PM and I had enough time. So I decided to visit Manas Mandir. I got a lift on a bike to Manas Mandir and reached there by 4.30 PM. Manas Mandir is a famous Jain temple located at the bottom of Mahuli Hills. I spent less than 20 minutes inside the Mandir compound. I didn’t have enough time to explore all the areas inside the Mandir . I returned back to the bus stop and waited there for the 5 PM bus. Luckily, the Mumbai group gave me a lift to Asangaon railway station and I returned back to Mumbai with them.