Raj Machi Fort Trek
Just as the fresh aroma of a rare November rain with the cool breeze in your face hits you, you know it’s just the perfect time to call your trekking buddies and that’s exactly what I did. After cherishing the moment and without wasting an extra second I made a call to Nihal Modak and Charles Wood late in the evening to check out this long pending Raj Machi Fort trek. While Mr. Wood got stuck in the City due to prior commitments, Nihal hoped on to accompany me for this stupendous trek which was just as easy as the way it was planned.
The next morning we fueled in his car and set off for the journey early from Mumbai to Lonavla where a small village named Rajmachi is located in the rugged mountains of Sayadri. The fortification at Rajmachi consists of two forts, namely Shrivardhan fort and Manaranjan Fort. They are a popular trekking and camping destination. It’s approximately an hour and a half to two hour drive from Mumbai to Lonavla via Mumbai – Pune expressway. You need to get off the expressway at the first khandala exist and drive towards Della adventure park. Once you have reached the adventure park follow the same road which goes ahead it will lead you to Raj Machi village, there are no turns in between so you can’t get lost. Although once you cross the park there is no proper tar or cement road. It’s a road filled with mud and pebbles for approximately 12-15kms. If you have an SUV you can definitely reach the foot of the hill without a worry. My personal experience driving a Wagon R says if you’re a smart manoeuver you can manage to reach the village, but there was not a single local who would acknowledge my wisdom so we parked our car in an open space a couple of kms after the adventure park and set a foot towards our destination. However, keeping in mind that we went in November(being a non-monsoon period) the condition of the road wasn’t that bad so please have look at the condition of the road and be the best judge for the safety of your car. You can also reach lonavla by train and get off at lonavla station and ask for a tum tum ride to Rajmachi village. The tum tum however will drop you 15kms away from the village nearly the same place where we parked our car. It’s a scenic walk through the woods and a flat terrain uptil Raj Machi which takes around 4hours to cover but it’s not as tiring as it sounds. You will find a lot of cattle, monkeys and various kinds of butterflies to accompany you for those 4hours along with picture perfect locations that will offer you candid shots. If it’s not exactly a cloudy day I would suggest that you carry a hat/cap or carry your shades and at least 2liters of water per person with you. Another little suggestion I would like to make is try and have your breakfast at lonavla before getting on to the route for Della adventure as there isn’t any food available after that uptill Raj Machi. Once you have reached Raj Machi you need to pay of entry of Rs.10/- per person to the government body for maintaining the forts and I must agree that they have done a pretty good job. There are steps build right up to the top of the fort so it’s a non-challenging 30minutes climb to the top. But a challenging trek is not what you should be looking for, it’s the splendid view from the top that brings butterflies in your stomach. Once you reach the top you will need at least an hour and a half to explore the caves and the fort and soak in the beauty of the surrounding hills. There is a lot of space on top to camp at night, in fact one of the sweetest spots to camp. However I would request anyone who is camping please do not litter nor leave the garbage on top post camping as it leaves a disgusting sight for the next set of people coming up there. It is one of those forts where you actually sight nice big garbage bins placed by the government so you can always throw your trash there and leave the nature green. However there is no provisions of toilets over there so you will have to crap in the wild. If you don’t have tents villagers rent their huts to you at cheap prices to stay the night and are sweet enough to cook amazing food for you. Finally before leaving don’t forget to have “chai” in the small elegant tea stalls build by the villagers J
If I have to put it in a Nutshell: Perfect trek for amateurs without any trekking or hiking experience and a paradise for campers. But if you’re an off roader enthusiast it’s not really an off road track, you should look for a different place.
Difficulty level : Very easy
A Must Visit!
Hope you have a safe, clean and green trek in future.